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Best Metal Treasure Detecting Technologies

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Treasurehunter3D GoldHunter VLF
GoldHunter by TreasureHunter3D

The most efficient technologies that can be used when it comes to buried object detection are:

  • Electromagnetic Induction / VLF metal detectors and PI metal detectors

  • GPR - ground penetrating radar

  • Magnetic surveying

  • Geophones

  • Lidars

  • Magnet Fishing

  • Nonscientific apparatus (to avoid!!!) - long-range detectors, pendulum, dowsing

Metal detecting is a fascinating hobby that has been around for many years.

With the advancement of technology, there are now many efficient and effective metal and treasure-detecting techniques available.

In this blog, we will explore some of the best metal and treasure detecting techniques, including their pros and cons.

Electromagnetic Induction / VLF and PI metal detectors

This is the basic technology used in metal detectors. It works by generating a magnetic field and inducing an electric current in metal objects. The detector then detects the change in the magnetic field caused by the metal object and alerts the user. This technology is used by all classic coil metal detectors VLF, PI, and pinpoint metal detectors.

Treasurehunter3D VLF Metal Detector
VLF Metal Detector


  • Work best for gold prospecting

  • Suitable to detect very small objects like coins, bracelets

  • Can discriminate between metallic objects

  • Can be very affordable since they are very popular and in higher production

  • Resistant to electronic interference


  • Have difficulty penetrating deep into the ground, so they're not suitable for detecting objects buried deep underground (max. detection depth is 0.5m)

  • Not suitable for use in highly mineralized soil environments

  • Not able to detect non-metallic objects

GPR - ground penetrating radar

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a non-destructive detection and imaging method that identifies subsurface elements either underground or within a surface such as concrete. It employs radio waves to map structures and features buried in the ground or encased within concrete, providing a profile of subsurface features that can be used to determine the location of buried objects.

Treasurehunter3D GPR
GPR detector


  • Can detect non-metallic objects including chests, tunnels, hidden rooms, caves, voids, and other buried objects

  • Can be used in many different types of environments and soil structures

  • Able to detect small and large objects

  • Can detect objects that are buried tens of meters deep


  • Not able to discriminate between different materials

  • Devices can become bulky to be able to penetrate deep

  • Moisture in the soil can reduce depth penetration

  • Doesn’t work in clay

  • Highly expensive

Magnetic surveying

Magnetic surveying is a geophysical method used in archaeology to detect and map archaeological artifacts and features. It records spatial variation in the Earth's magnetic field, which is caused by contrasts in magnetic susceptibility. Magnetometry is a non-destructive and non-invasive method that can survey large areas of any given site, revealing buried architecture and archaeological features. Archaeological features such as foundation trenches, storage pits, and mud walls have differing levels of magnetization, and magnetometry can detect these variations.

Treasurehunter3D GoldenEye
GoldenEye by TreasureHunter3D


  • Can detect metallic and non-metallic non-metallic objects

  • Able to detect anomalies and objects that are buried tens of meters deep

  • Able to detect small and large objects

  • Magnetic prospecting devices are becoming very portable


  • Most sensitive to ferrous metals

  • Not effective in detecting non-magnetic materials such as ceramics or organic materials

  • More expensive than classic metal detectors

Lidars (Light Detection And Ranging)

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors use light energy, emitted from a laser, to scan the ground and measure variable distances. The result is a rich set of elevation data that can be used to produce high-resolution maps and 3D models of natural and man-made objects.

Lidar technology can help archaeologists find archaeological sites by generating high-resolution elevation models of geographic areas. Lidar can penetrate through thick forest canopies and map archaeological features beneath heavily overgrown landscapes. Lidar can help reveal critical secrets about the hidden world all around us.

Oregon State University Lidar
Source: Oregon State University


  • Able to detect historical sites/structures and their ruins on the surface through the forest

  • Can scan large areas in a short time


  • Not able to discriminate

  • Cannot penetrate underground

  • High cost


Geophones are a type of seismic sensor that can be used for metal and treasure detection. They work by detecting vibrations in the ground caused by objects or disturbances. Geophones are commonly used in the oil and gas industry to detect underground deposits, but they can also be used for treasure hunting.

Wessex Archaeology Geophones
Source: Wessex Archaeology


  • Can detect objects buried deep underground

  • Can detect non-metallic objects

  • Can be used in a variety of soil types and environments

  • Can be very accurate in detecting the location of objects


  • Can be expensive

  • Require specialized training to use it effectively

  • Can be affected by external vibrations and noise

Magnet fishing

Magnet fishing is a hobby that has gained popularity in recent years. It involves using a strong magnet attached to a rope to search for metal objects in bodies of water. While it can be a fun and exciting activity, there are both pros and cons to consider.

Jason Bain Fly fishing
Source: Jason Bain


  • Affordable: Magnet Fishing can be a relatively inexpensive hobby. All you need is a strong magnet, a sturdy rope, and some gloves to protect your hands.

  • Environmentally friendly: Magnet Fishing is a non-invasive activity that does not harm the environment. It can even help to clean up bodies of water by removing metal objects that can be harmful to wildlife.

  • Exciting: Magnet Fishing can be a thrilling activity, as you never know what you might find. It can be a great way to spend time outdoors and explore new areas.

  • Can find valuable objects: While it is rare, magnet fishers have been known to find valuable objects such as jewelry or historical artifacts.


  • Suitable only for objects in the water

  • Safety concerns: Magnet Fishing can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. A strong magnet can attract metal objects from a distance, which can be hazardous if they are sharp or rusty.

  • Legal issues: In some areas, it may be illegal to remove objects from bodies of water without a permit. It is important to check local laws and regulations before magnet fishing.

  • Limited success: While magnet fishing can be exciting, it is important to keep in mind that it is not always successful. It can take time and patience to find valuable or interesting objects.

Nonscientific apparatus - long-range detectors, pendulum, dowsing

Nonscientific apparatuses such as long-range detectors, pendulums, and dowsing are often marketed as tools for detecting various substances, including metals, drugs, and explosives. However, these devices lack scientific evidence to support their effectiveness and are often considered fraudulent or useless by skeptics.

Here is more information about each of these nonscientific apparatus:

  1. Long-range detectors: Long-range detectors are a type of fraudulent device that is purported to be a type of metal detector. These devices supposedly operate on a principle of resonance with the material being detected, but this theory of operation is not supported by scientific theory. Skeptics have examined the internals of many such devices and found those that have been examined to be incapable of operating as advertised, and have dismissed them as overpriced dowsing rods or similarly useless devices.

  2. Pendulum: A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. Some people believe that pendulums can be used to detect energy fields or to answer yes or no questions. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, and pendulums are generally considered to be pseudoscientific.

  3. Dowsing: Dowsing is a technique that is used to locate underground water sources, minerals, or other hidden objects. It involves using a forked stick, pendulum, or other device to detect the presence of the object being sought. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of dowsing, and it is generally considered to be a pseudoscientific practice.


In summary, nonscientific apparatus such as long-range detectors, pendulums, and dowsing lack scientific evidence to support their effectiveness and are often considered fraudulent or useless by skeptics. These devices should not be relied upon for accurate detection of substances or objects.

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