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272

gold

OLogy Series
geology
card
272

gold

OLogy Series
geology

Early civilizations offered it to appease their gods. Ancient Egyptians placed it in tombs to support the dead on their journey to the afterlife. It was used in coins as early as 560 BC, and is still used in financial transactions. Today, it is also used in dentistry, computers, and even spacecraft. And you might be wearing it on your body right now. It is gold--a precious, shiny, yellow metal.

Most of the yearly gold supply is used for:

financial transactions

jewelry

medical and dental procedures

Are you right?

Correct!

About 78 percent of the yearly gold supply is made into jewelry. Gold is an ideal metal for jewelry because of its shine, color, and resistance to corrosion. However, pure gold is too soft for jewelry, so it's often mixed with stronger metals.

In recent years, a "green gold" movement has emerged, which advocates for:

mixing gold with barium to create gold with a greenish hue

the use of emeralds rather than gold as currency

ecological and mining practices

Are you right?

Correct!

The toxic chemicals used to extract gold from the rocks can be devastating if it leaks into the environment. "Green gold" is produced from cleaner mining practices that prevent toxins from reaching groundwater.

One ounce of gold can be drawn into a thin gold wire that's:

5 miles long

15 miles long

50 miles long

Are you right?

Correct!

Gold is very ductile. Thin gold wires are used in many everyday objects, including computers and other electronic equipment.

Jim Webster, Earth scientist

Gold has a unique combination of physical and chemical properties. This yellow metal is highly reflective, an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, very dense yet soft, and malleable.

Most gold is found as "nuggets," or solid lumps of gold, in riverbeds and streambeds.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Gold nuggets are solid lumps of gold, but they are very rare--making up less than two percent of all native gold ever mined. Most gold is extracted from underground mines.

Gold is always golden yellow.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Pure gold is the only metal that is yellow. When mixed with other metals, the color of gold changes. It can be white, yellow, blue, purple, pink, and brown!

White gold and platinum are terms for the same metal.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

White gold and platinum are both silvery metals, but they are very different. Platinum is a pure metallic element. White gold is an alloy of the elements gold, silver, and palladium.

Definition: precious metal used in jewelry, coins, and industry
Chemical symbol: Au (from the Latin “aurum,” meaning “glowing dawn”)
Color: golden yellow in its pure state
Properties: extremely dense, malleable, metallic luster, soft, excellent conductor of electricity and heat.
World’s leading producers of gold: Republic of South Africa, Australia, and the United States

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH; Jim Webster: courtesy of AMNH.