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Rocks & Minerals

Rocks and minerals banner - pan of gold

Alaska is a great place to pan for gold (the state mineral) and hunt for mineral and rock specimens. The state has a rich history of mining, due to its substantial endowment of mineral resources. The most important thing for you, as a prospector, to know is the ownership of the land on which you would like to rock hound. Landowners have different rules about what activities are permitted on their land. For example, the state has set aside specific areas for recreational gold panning:

Silver and copper mineralization in the Talkeetna Mountains

Silver and copper mineralization in the Talkeetna Mountains. Green color is the copper mineral malachite. Photo credit: Evan Twelker, DGGS, taken 2014.

Prospecting and gold panning on state and BLM land is limited to hand tools and light equipment; permits may be required for other equipment. For additional information about mining or mineral collecting on state land, view the Mining Resources web site or contact the Public Information Center. For information regarding mining on federal land, contact the Bureau of Land Management.

Without having to hike off the roads, specimens may also be viewed at the University of Alaska's Museum of the North, Alaska Museum of Science & Nature, and Chugach Gem and Mineral Society's Annual Rock and Mineral Show. DGGS also has a nice display of minerals, rocks, and fossils in its main Fairbanks office and many samples from all over Alaska are archived and viewable at the Geologic Materials Center.

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