The Biggest Secret In Metal Detecting!

bigscoop

Gold Member
Jun 4, 2010
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Wherever there be treasure!
Detector(s) used
Older blue Excal with full mods, Equinox 800.
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
The Gravity Of The Situation:


Most seasoned detectorist are aware of this but for those detectorist who aren't this is something one should always keep in mind because it can certainly lead you to more good recoveries. And this is true be it on land, at the beach, and even in the water.

Take a quarter and hold it out away from your body, now let go of it and it will fall to the ground, this rate of fall varying depending on the density and the resistance of the item being dropped. Pretty darn basic physics.

BUT, even though these items stop falling when they hit the ground gravity is still, and always, trying to pull those items closer. This is why they remain on the ground. Now then, what might happen over a long period of years if this ground is soft or not very dense? Well, those items are just going to continue to get pulled deeper and deeper until they reach a point where something is in the way to stop them, or until they reach a point where the density of the matrix is equal to, or greater than, that sinking item. See where all of this heading? Let me offer you a few examples as to just how important this gravity situation is.

Take those Florida beaches I use to hunt every day. At low tide one can walk out onto the newly exposed sand after it has drained a bit and that sand feels firm and hard. But if we go back out there after the tide has returned one can sink his scoop into that same area of beach with the easy of scooping butter. So once that water has returned and saturated that sand again items will begin to sink more quickly, and at times at an alarming rate, especially during the summer season when there is additional inches, and even additional feet, of soft fluffy sand on the beach.

And this same thing holds true on land as well. If that ground isn't very dense and it's easy to sink your digger into it for several inches or even a foot or more then the odds aren't very good that older items of value are going to be within our reach regardless how old that property might be. On the other hand, if that ground is firmer, maybe gravel and stone and root infested, or if it has been packed down over long period of years, then our odds of finding those older items start to increase. Of course, this is likely also going to mean the encountering of more trash for all of the same reasons, especially in places where there exist a long history of human use.

If you're finding pull-tabs and other lite items like those aluminum bottle caps at 4 or 5 inches, or more, then be suspect that the ground is simply too soft and too loose to support those older items. I know many such places that even have thick layers of grass and those surface roots but once you get below this layer it's not uncommon to recover those pull-tabs and aluminum bottle caps at 8-9” or more. So unless I'm just tooling around in search of recent drops I avoid these areas at all cost. The same being said of my beach hunting and water hunting too.

The following is the biggest secret in metal detecting. “Always keep your coil over those accessible firmer bottoms where those desirable items can settle and gather.” If you focus on nothing else this alone can make all the difference in the world in your metal detecting success.....Cheers!
 

Upvote 15
This is what you said; "I could prepare a hundred different bowls of different compounds of different densities, set the same year quarter on top of each one and the sink rates would all be different. BUT, if those densities are less than the quarter itself, well, that quarter is going to eventually sink."

I'm telling you that is absolutely untrue without outside influence to act on the compound allowing the quarter to displace the solids beneath it. Sand, flour, cornmeal or mud, take your pick, that quarter is going to sit on top forever until the compound is agitated.

Sand for instance, when a quarter is dropped on it, the weight of the quarter causes the granules of sand under it to interlock against each other. Unless there is something to break the friction between the granules of sand, they will stay interlocked together forever supporting the quarter.

I submit to you that a quarter made out of gold will probably take longer to sink in the earth than a clad quarter. Why? Because the weight of the gold quarter will cause the granules of sand to lock tighter together beneath it than the clad quarter. Thus, partially explaining why gold jewelry is often found closer to the surface than many other targets dropped during the same timeframe.
Then do this, keep detecting all of that soft sand and loose soil and simply leave most of the good stuff to the rest of us.

There's a reason why treasure salvors have those huge blowers on the back of their boats, so they can blow holes in the bottom in order access the hard pan, dense layers of shell pack, hard clay, and bedrock.

"All" surfaces are subject to "outside influences" including rain, wind, wave action, etc., etc., which assist the sink rates of the items in question. This should be readily taken for granted.

All I can tell you is this, I know many "consistently successful" detectorist, some of the best and most successful, in fact, and they will all tell you the same thing I have told you.

"If you really want to increase your rate of success then keep your coil over those accessible firmer bottoms."
 

Interesting theory. I only have old farm sites in ag fields to hunt. Not much deep plowing anymore but yearly chiseling. Things in the plow zone go down then come back up. It’s like a cycle. Thirty yrs ago, I dumped half of a 5 gal bucket of flint flakes in the cornfield directly across from my house. Spread them in circle maybe 20 yds wide. I walked out there and checked on them often. There were a few yrs that went by with no flakes showing, and there were hundreds there. A yr goes by, field is chiseled and rained on and there they are. Next yr, only a few showing. A yr later and all gone. They turned the field into pasture so I can no longer monitor them. Just my experience.
 

Then do this, keep detecting all of that soft sand and loose soil and simply leave most of the good stuff to the rest of us.

There's a reason why treasure salvors have those huge blowers on the back of their boats, so they can blow holes in the bottom in order access the hard pan, dense layers of shell pack, hard clay, and bedrock.

"All" surfaces are subject to "outside influences" including rain, wind, wave action, etc., etc., which assist the sink rates of the items in question. This should be readily taken for granted.

All I can tell you is this, I know many "consistently successful" detectorist, some of the best and most successful, in fact, and they will all tell you the same thing I have told you.

"If you really want to increase your rate of success then keep your coil over those accessible firmer bottoms."
You're comparing apples with oranges. I'm not talking rivers, lakes, or the ocean. I'm talking turf.
Rain has little effect beyond the first inch in soil. That's mostly what buries targets into the first inch of soil vs them sitting on the surface for years.

BTW, the clay layer in my neck of the woods is 3-5ft.
 

"The Biggest Secret In Metal Detecting!"​

Hmmmmm............
That most of the metal one might detect and recover... Ended up there on purpose....

or not on purpose.

?

:P

:)
 

🤔
I might be wrong but I think item goes down or "sinks" because of a combination, or I would rather say summary of a few reasons (physics laws) but in case of dropped item I'm pretty sure it is more about this items surface area than its weight. Interesting issue, worth to settle it, worth to be sure and to understand what we do, rather than basing on intuition only.



Despite that how it really works, if your experience says it is better to keep a coil over firmed bottom and you just see a difference then I believe it is an advice worth to consider, remember and give it a try.

⛏️
 

You're comparing apples with oranges. I'm not talking rivers, lakes, or the ocean. I'm talking turf.
Rain has little effect beyond the first inch in soil. That's mostly what buries targets into the first inch of soil vs them sitting on the surface for years.

BTW, the clay layer in my neck of the woods is 3-5ft.
OK.
 

In central Florida, per example (and elsewhere), archeologist are encountering Spanish era items at a depth of about 3-4ft. So applying that other logic, are we to assume that the earth has simply gotten 4ft larger in diameter over 300 years? No, of course not.

Walls, foundations, etc., can get covered over due to the effects of debris piling up, around, and eventually over them, this is an entirely different set of circumstances.

If we could see a 3D cutaway of the surfaces under our feet over a large area that substrate (layering) isn't flat, but rather that image would look a lot like the stock trading chart for a highly volatile stock, those firmer areas being closer to the surface in some areas and much deeper in others. Up and down, up and down, up and down, that firm layer line looking like an extremely jagged edge with considerable alternating peaks and valleys.
 

Most places the amount of top soil erosion is happening more leaving more alkalized clay and the minerals are disappearing at an extreme rate. Not to mention especially particularly farmland mostly. I think we just need to put back what we take out, we all have a responsibility for renewing our earth through more planting and composting.
 

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In central Florida, per example (and elsewhere), archeologist are encountering Spanish era items at a depth of about 3-4ft. So applying that other logic, are we to assume that the earth has simply gotten 4ft larger in diameter over 300 years? No, of course not.
I took an archeology course in college years ago, would love to take another someday, and one of the foundational principles we were taught in that introductory class was that soil actually does “grow” over time, and at a rate so predictable (relative to local ecology and use, of course) that depth can be used to roughly date artifacts. Soil accumulates due to the movement of matter from deeper layers up to the surface by roots, bugs, etc. A tree takes up nutrients from the soil, which is itself constantly breaking down into new nutrients, dies or drops its leaves, and thereby places material on the surface, grass does the same etc. The rates of soil accumulation are well established for given areas of the world. I agree that “sinking” of more dense items is only possible in areas of heavy and frequent disturbance, by man or nature.
 

I took an archeology course in college years ago, would love to take another someday, and one of the foundational principles we were taught in that introductory class was that soil actually does “grow” over time, and at a rate so predictable (relative to local ecology and use, of course) that depth can be used to roughly date artifacts. Soil accumulates due to the movement of matter from deeper layers up to the surface by roots, bugs, etc. A tree takes up nutrients from the soil, which is itself constantly breaking down into new nutrients, dies or drops its leaves, and thereby places material on the surface, grass does the same etc. The rates of soil accumulation are well established for given areas of the world. I agree that “sinking” of more dense items is only possible in areas of heavy and frequent disturbance, by man or nature.
In the islands we have coral rock, or oolite .... the soil which is thin and take thousands of years to develop is called leaf litter soil, and is composed of sand, rock broken down by roots, sahara dust deposits, decomposing leaf litter, and worm and bug castings etc....it's the only way we get dirt, and it's very fertile, but a thin layer, and easily depleted and eroded....it builds up and slowly covers man made objects....preserving them nicely!! First it's just leaves covering the object, but as the leaves decompose and mix with wind blown sand, dust, and bug castings .... it becomes soil !! And the island evolves !! Fascinating how it all works.

Now the beach, and surf,wind, and waves, are a whole other dynamic, and some different factors are at play !!
 

In Vancouver we were recovering coins that were only 10 yrs old, 10 inches down in the lawn.
I found a large cent just under the dry leaf litter on a steep bank in High Park Toronto.
But in the same park on the other end, the same era of LC was 14" down.
Both were off the beaten track, in the bush areas.
I believe that the more northern areas that have a deep frost plays a part in the depths of recoveries.
 


This is what our islands are made of in the keys and Bahamas...this is what is under our sand when you reach the bottom. All gold silver and platinum.....and everything really will be trapped on the oolite rock....sand is especially easy for the heavies to sink through with the slightest of disturbance....wind, waves, and even foot traffic will cause the heavies to migrate down through the soft sand. Different rates of sink, will happen with the different types of sand and how moist or dry it is....dry soft fine sand (sugar sand) as they call it...is notorious for (sucking objects) right out of reach very quickly. If you live in Florida you've seen it....a person drops his keys, or a ring in the soft hot dry sugar sand, and everyone starts looking for it....they start running there hands through the sand frantically searching for the lost item....every time they disturb the sand around or near the object in question it sinks deeper and deeper...until its gone, and no one can find it even though it should be "right there" !! As a metal detectorist/treasure hunter I want to find a place where that oolite rock is only a foot or two under that soft sand....best way to do this is to find the exposed rock, and take note of where the sand meets the rock .... now I step back from this border of sand meeting rock about 6-8 feet and start the hunt...that sand close to the rock will be only a few inches to a foot or 2 over the oolite rock, and the heavies will be on top of that rock unable to sink any deeper....just the same as gold on bedrock....the oolite rocks small holes and rough surface act just like a riffle and trap the heavies in the low spots in the rock...sometimes the heavies will be hard or impossible to recover from the oolite rock because of deeper holes, caves, voids, and cracks....I've had to use picks and chisels to break the oolite to retrieve trapped gold rings and jewelry deep in the oolite holes. Once the oolite bottom is over 3 feet to reach, it becomes very difficult to read the targets with your machine, and even harder to recover with the sugar sand constantly cving back into the hole your digging....it's not impossible to dig there, but your hole must be very wide to keep the sand from caving back in.....you start digging holes that are 4 feet wide, to reach a target 3 feet deep....real hard work at this point that may take a half hour or more for retrieveal...moist sand is better for this type of digging, but too wet is even worse !! It's a tricky game, and I even hunt the potholes in the exposed rock...it's called "potholing", and barley anyone knows about it....I'm very successful with this potholing because often times there used to be sand over the rock for hundreds of years....wind waves and erosion have stripped the sand from the rock except in the potholes that still hold sand....in the bottom of these potholes are the heavies lead, gold, silver, and other metals that were once on top of and in the sand....the rock potholes now hold everything that ever was on or in the sand....easy pickings...just don't fall down or break a leg in this treacherous pothole oolite rock !!
 

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In Vancouver we were recovering coins that were only 10 yrs old, 10 inches down in the lawn.
I found a large cent just under the dry leaf litter on a steep bank in High Park Toronto.
But in the same park on the other end, the same era of LC was 14" down.
Both were off the beaten track, in the bush areas.
I believe that the more northern areas that have a deep frost plays a part in the depths of recoveries.
That's interesting pepper, and something else to consider....I'll have to remember that for the upstate New York hunts I sometimes do...all sorts of factors will vary in different geology and and areas of the globe, and must be factored in to a hunt....most people do these deductions and observations instinctively, and it neat to sit and actually put real thought into these factors !!
 

It's interesting, all of it. But as to those outside factors, in the original post I said,

"Take those Florida beaches I use to hunt every day. At low tide one can walk out onto the newly exposed sand after it has drained a bit and that sand feels firm and hard. But if we go back out there after the tide has returned one can sink his scoop into that same area of beach with the easy of scooping butter."

Outside factors are always part of the equation, and in an uncontrolled environment they will always come into play, thus all of this also having effect on an item's sink rate. BUT, BUT, those various soil types, or matrixes, and due to all of the various outsides factors that effect sink rate, those firmer layers are still the key to consistent success, even more so due to all of those outside factors.
 

In Vancouver we were recovering coins that were only 10 yrs old, 10 inches down in the lawn.
I found a large cent just under the dry leaf litter on a steep bank in High Park Toronto.
But in the same park on the other end, the same era of LC was 14" down.
Both were off the beaten track, in the bush areas.
I believe that the more northern areas that have a deep frost plays a part in the depths of recoveries.
Yep. I run into this same type thing all of the time in my old local park. The other day, per example, I recovered a 2012 dime at about 10" that was in an area of the park with plush grass, a thin layer of grass root, and then extremely loose and crumbling dirt below this.

On the other hand, there are other areas of this same park where i have recovered several 1840 to 1880's large cents and silver coins at less than 5" deep, this ground being much denser and higher ground. One of the reason it is denser is because when it rains or there is snow melt a lot of that fine and loose topsoil is rinsed from the high ground and into the surrounding lower areas, where we will once again start recovering modern coins and even pull-tabs at 8-10", and beyond due to constant buildup of that same loose topsoil. And again, that same plush and thick grass, thin grass root layer, and then all that loose soil below.

So, sure, in those lower laying areas the debris can and do create coverage, but at those higher areas with good runoff that soil is generally going to be denser and more capable of supporting heavier items and maintaining slower sink rates. Ridges, the first half of a slope, etc., nearly always firmer than those lower areas that they drain into, and these high spots don't really need to be all that much higher.
 

Soft sand, soft and loose soil, it just can't support much.
Sand without water is one thing, sand with water is another, My guise is that an item that is dropped in water or low tide and the tide then comes in, when water saturates that sand it becomes something like a person panning for gold, the water swishes the sand around the object (wave action) and it moves down by force of gravity, just like swishing sand in a gold pan causes the gold to sink to the bottom, Although technically there is no "bottom" to ocean sand..
 

Sand without water is one thing, sand with water is another, My guise is that an item that is dropped in water or low tide and the tide then comes in, when water saturates that sand it becomes something like a person panning for gold, the water swishes the sand around the object (wave action) and it moves down by force of gravity, just like swishing sand in a gold pan causes the gold to sink to the bottom, Although technically there is no "bottom" to ocean sand..
When I was hunting the east coast of Florida every day I could tell you exactly where the shallower layers of shell pack were at for many miles up and down those beaches. After those deep summer sands were gone and the currents began to strip all of that surface and away I always knew right where to go to start looking for gold and silver, and I did quite well, especially when those currents cut deep into that shell pack.
 

How many locations do you hunt that never have any outside influences? And have to you attempted doing this over a period of years, 5,10,15,20,50,100, etc.?
True. I've been in many places where I could feel the movement of a truck passing 100' away. I married a girl whose mom's house was about 1/2 mile from the end of a Sea Tac runway. You could smell kerosene from planes taking off. The house had minor cracks in the walls from the subtle shaking that resulted from the rarefactions and compressions of air (we call sound).

Then there is the drifting sand thing. Entire dunes change places.

It would be interesting to visit sites that track tremors and such.
 

I am fascinated by that science does not know, with any certainty, what gravity is. That aside, common sense signs of it are all about us:

(1) Black holes that swallow even light.
(2) Huge and/or dense objects that attract smaller objects.
(3) Recognition that matter is made of of things that have magnetic properties at the atomic level.

Then we can toss into that mix:

(1) Welding leads on ships that jump toward each other, when an arc is struck.
(2) Flux lines all about the earth and that can actually be tapped, and other matters of magnetics.
(3) Earth's iron core.
(4) Iron cores used to create electronic components.
(5) Conductivity and, again, the issue of attraction or repulsion.
(6) Drop a magnet through a copper tube and it will notably longer to reach the ground than the same thing just dropped.

Considering the topic, we are looking for or plagued by the things in the ground, and that are conductive to varying degrees.

Lot of fun food for thought in this thread.
 

In the TVA areas we have flooding in all the valleys where there was much occupation and it puts everything two plus feet deep unless it is on a rise or small hill. I often use a probe to see how compacted the ground is. The harder the soil the older it is and the less over burden. Here in my area your best bet is usually side of hills or wash outs and in the water for relics or artifacts.
 

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