How to Detect Silver in the Ground at a Silver Mine

By Joe McElroy; Updated April 25, 2017
The dark, sooty streaks in silver ores clean up nicely to form pure, bright silver objects.

To find silver in a mine or in nature, you do not look for minerals that are silver-colored. Unlike gold, silver rarely appears in nature in the form of nearly pure nuggets. In the raw state, silver ores are almost always found in combination with other minerals. Silver is often a by-product in lead, copper and gold mines. You can recognize a potentially silver-bearing rock by dark, sooty streaks or dark crystals. Different types of silver ores are found in different parts of the world, so it helps to find what types of ores are common to the mine you explore.

Familiarize yourself with the types of ores that have been common to the mine you explore. There are many different types of silver ores. Learn which types are usually found where you are at and look for those first.

Watch for rocks that have have gray, spidery veins running through them. This can be a sign of silver content in areas that have silver.

Look for rocks that have either a rough dark gray to sooty black look or a silvery metallic look. In ores that are well oxidized and have a rough, rocky surface, the silver presents itself as a medium gray to black color. The silvery metallic ores that contain silver do not get their color and texture from the silver, but from lead content.

Watch for rocks with crystals. Silver is often found in conjunction with quartz and rubies. Rich silver deposits are found in rocks with a mixture of red, pink, and dark sooty crystals. The silver is in the dark crystals while the red and pink crystals are a manganese mineral called rhodochrosite.

Look for gold. Gold and silver tend to be companions in nature. Where there are gold deposits, there are usually silver deposits as well. Often silver is found in the same base ores that gold is extracted from.

Tip

Because the types of ores can vary so dramatically depending on geography, take advantage of the knowledge of experienced miners in the area you explore. They can tell you what types of rocks they found silver in in that location and where the best spots are to find such rocks.

About the Author

Joe McElroy has been writing on politics and culture since 1983. His articles have appeared in a diverse array of publications, including the "Chicago Daily Observer" and "Immaculata" magazine. McElroy works occasionally as a strategic consultant to federal candidates. He majored in American history at Northwestern University.