5 Key Metal Detection Depth Factors

Metal detecting is an exciting hobby and profession. But, if you’ve ever wielded a metal detector, you’d know that depth matters. 

How deep your device can detect influences the type and age of objects you can find.  So, what factors play a role in the depth of detection?

5 Key Metal Detection Depth Factors

Let’s explore the top five.

  1. Size and type of the target object
  2. Soil Conditions
  3. Detector frequency and technology
  4. Search coil size and shape
  5. User technique and settings

1. Size and Type of the Target Object

  • Larger objects are typically easier to detect and can be sensed at greater depths than smaller ones.
  • Different metals have varied conductivity. For instance:
    • Silver and copper have high conductivity and are detected easily.
    • Gold, being less conductive, might be trickier, especially in small quantities.

2. Soil Conditions

The type and condition of the ground play a significant role:

  • Mineralization:
    • High mineral content can interfere with detection.
    • Some advanced detectors have ground-balancing features to counteract this.
  • Moisture:
    • Wet soil enhances conductivity and can lead to deeper detection.
    • However, overly saturated ground might cause false signals.

3. Detector Frequency and Technology

  • Frequency:
    • Lower frequencies detect larger objects at deeper depths.
    • Higher frequencies are sensitive to smaller objects but might not reach as deep.
  • Technology:
    • Very Low Frequency (VLF) is common and suitable for a variety of conditions.
    • Pulse Induction (PI) technology can detect objects at significant depths, especially larger items.

4. Search Coil Size and Shape

The design of the coil influences detection depth:

  • Size:
    • Larger coils cover more ground and can detect deeper objects.
    • However, they might miss smaller items.
  • Shape:
    • Round coils offer even sensitivity across the coil.
    • Elliptical or oval-shaped coils provide more depth in the center, making them more sensitive to deeper objects.

5. User Technique and Settings

How you handle your detector matters:

  • Sweep Speed:
    • Moving too fast can cause you to miss deeper objects.
    • A slower, methodical sweep is advised for deeper detection.
  • Settings:
    • Adjusting metal detector settings like sensitivity can impact depth.
    • Ground balance adjustments help in mineralized soils.


Understanding these factors can vastly improve your metal-detecting experience. 

By adjusting to the environment, understanding your detector, and using the right technique, you can maximize the depth and increase the chances of unearthing hidden treasures.

Howard rockse

Hey there, I am Howard a deeply committed individual who likes to share my knowledge and insights in this field, having spent over ten years as a metal detectorist.

My experience with GoldXtra has allowed me to provide trustworthy and informative advice to both new and experienced metal-detecting enthusiasts. I’m committed to assisting others in exploring and enjoying the world of metal detecting with the same enthusiasm and dedication that I have.

Howard Rockse
Senior Content Writer at GoldXtra

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