How is Gold Formed? The Answer is Out of this World!
Gold – a precious metal, recognized throughout history as valuable sits locked away deep in the earth. How did it get there? How is gold formed? This time on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog we’re putting our reading glasses and tweed jackets on to talk history and science and answer the question of how gold is formed.
How is Gold Formed?
First it’s important to make a distinction here. Gold isn’t actually formed per se. On Earth, gold exists as it is, deep in the earth, though the form it takes (solid, or molten) may differ. There are no naturally occurring processes that produce new gold… on Earth.
The process by which gold is created takes place amongst the stars! Gold is formed when stars explode or collide, only then are the necessary energy and conditions right to create gold.
So, if it’s formed in space, how does it get into the ground? When Earth formed out of the cosmic stuff the heavy elements, like gold, sank deep to the planet core. Then, the asteroids came! Over 4 billion years ago asteroids smashed into the mantle and crust! Those asteroids hit and mixed up the layers of the Earth, which caused the gold that had sunk to the core to mix into the upper layers, the mantle and crust.
That gold is then deposited in rock ore in a number of different forms including: flakes, mixed with silver as electrum, or as the pure element itself.
Geological Processes Bring Gold To Us
Over time, erosion frees gold from other rock, and since gold is heavy it sinks to the bottom of river beds, the ocean, and the like. Similarly, earthquakes have a huge role in bringing gold to the surface. During quakes the fault will rapidly decompress the water that’s rich in minerals. That water will vaporize and leave veins of gold (and other things) deposited. Volcanoes perform a similar function!
Just How Much Gold is There Then?
A good question! If all of the gold on Earth was deposited long ago it must be finite yes? Well, it is, but the amount of gold that has been extracted thus far is only a tiny fraction of the total amount! There is an estimated 1 million tons of gold sitting in the topmost kilometer of the Earth’s surface; the amount in the mantle and core is unknown.
Of all the gold ever mined, approximately 80% of it is still in circulation today thanks to it’s value and durability!
Can’t Scientists Make Gold?
Believe it or not, scientists have found the ability to create gold from other elements, Isaac Newton would be jealous! But to do so requires a nuclear reaction, a process so intense that economically it makes no sense to create gold to sell. Thankfully we have plenty in the Earth just waiting for us!
That’s putting it briefly. Here’s an article that explains more from Dr. Christopher Baird at West Texas A&M.
We hope this detour through the university library has answered your questions about how gold is formed! It’s pretty mind blowing to realize that this beautiful metal we adorn ourselves with came from the stars! With that knowledge, is it any wonder that it has made the perfect precious treasure and gift for so long?
If you’d like to learn less about how gold is formed, and more about how you can buy your special someone a gift that dates back, elementally at least, billions of years give Stewart Kuper Jewelers a call!