Themes

GOLD MINING    •    GOLD IN NATURE    •    GOLD IN SOCIETY    •    GOLD IN ART

How Did Gold Form?

Illustration of a pre-burst supernova.

The latin name for gold "aurum naturae" means 'glowing dawn'.

Photograph of a gold specimen from Mount Uniacke, NS, which contains small amounts of gold in contrast to the volume of quartz.

Gold specimen from Mount Uniacke, 9.61 Troy ounces of gold.

NSM: 982GE0001.009.

Photograph of a gold specimen from Montague, NS, with the gold strikingly deposited in a web throughout the white quartz.

Gold specimen from Montague, 23.9 Troy ounces of gold.

NSM: 982GE0001.004

Photograph of gold specimen from Tangier, NS, with the gold perched atop the dark quartz rock.

Gold specimen from Tangier, 4.77 Troy ounces of gold.

NSM: 982GE032.001

Gold, one of the only minerals that occurs in its native state or pure form, has captivated humans for millennia. Its brilliance, rarity and enduring power has built empires, inspired artists, driven gold rushes, and launched economies. Although found on every continent, its elusive nature still makes it one of the most sought-after commodities in the world.

But where does it come from?

Illustration of a neutron star going supernova.

Artist’s impression of a collapsing star, known as a supernova.

NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

All of the gold found on Earth today formed billions of years ago in the centre of an ancient star. Stars, like our sun, are extremely hot. Once the ancient star over-heated, it collapsed into itself and then blew up. Collapsing stars are known as "supernovas". Gold formed during the collapse of an ancient supernova and gathered in clouds in outer space. Eventually, the clouds condensed, forming planet Earth.