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Goldpanning on the Kenai Peninsula
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AOJ Outdoor Activities

Gold - significance and uses

The brightness and ornamental beauty of gold have fascinated humans for more than 5,000 years and still does. This most noble metal takes its name from the Germanic "gulth," meaning glowing or shining metal. Gold often establishes the standard by which wealth is measured, The physical properties of gold add to its popularity and value. On a scale of 1 to 10, it has an average hardness of 2.8; diamond is 10. So gold is relatively soft, malleable and tarnish resistant. It makes excellent jewelry.

The modern electronics industry uses gold for its corrosion resistance and conducting properties, accounting for 1/3 Of the industrial demand for gold.

Gold has a specific gravity of 19.3, meaning it is more than 19 times heavier than an equal volume of water.

Gold has a rich yellow color or "kindly" appearance, turning paler as its silver content increases. Gold is relatively easy to identify when you know its properties, but novices can confuse it with minerals such as pyrite and mica. Both can occur with gold. Pyrite, or "fool's gold," is brassy light yellow, and brittle (shatters when crushed). Mica is light yellow to bronzy, light weight, and has a platy appearance.


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