Looking for Precious Metals? Here’s How to Search Aerial Land Maps Online

Forty or 50 years ago, only people who owned airplanes could zoom over the earth, looking for sites likely to contain precious metals. If they found the location of an old church, factory, house or mine, they noted the location and then visited it on foot.

Today, you can do it all online. Although detailed aerial maps are not available for every square inch of the world, they still offer a useful – and intriguing - way to find prospecting sites. And you can find them “from the comfort of your own home,” as the old saying goes.

Google Maps

Simply do a Google search for an address, then take a virtual walk around the area. There are limitations, because most of the maps show street views. But over the last few years, the Google mapping project has added more and more fields, parks and other open areas. Get clicking and see what you can find.


This is a large searchable online library of satellite and overhead images of areas around the world. Although the selection is somewhat limited, you might find just the right view of an area that interests you.


Here’s an extensive online source of satellite maps that covers most of the world. This site offers a downloadable toolbar that makes your searching easier.


This site offers high-quality aerial views of sites in the continental United States. One unique feature is the availability of older maps. You can compare new and older maps and note any changes that have taken place.


This site offers an aerial map of the entire world, the World Imagery Map, that is updated regularly. Be sure to check out the larger version of the recently updated satellite map of the Grand Canyon shown below. Beautiful and useful.

Recent satellite map of the Grand Canyon, courtesy of ArcGIS(dot)com.

Recent satellite map of the Grand Canyon, courtesy of ArcGIS(dot)com.

Earth Explorer

This is an extremely valuable site, maintained by the United States Geological Survey, that shows satellite images of the earth. It is viewable at http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/ and updated daily.


This useful site currently offers about 3,000 satellite maps, mostly of the continental United States. Not every corner of the U.S. is covered. But you just might find exactly the area you are looking for.


Here’s another extensive online library of high-quality satellite maps.


This online service from the Harris company offers mostly overhead views of stadiums, buildings and historical sites. But if you poke around, you might find a useful satellite view of the area you would like to explore.


NASA offers many wonderful satellite views of the planet earth. They are more for scientists than treasure-hunters, offering maps that show temperatures in different parts of the world, the locations of ice and snow, and the effects of global warming. Even if they won’t lead you to that pot of 24K gold, they are beautiful and fascinating.

And When You Find the Precious Metals You’re Searching for…

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners today at 800-426-2344. Our down-to-earth recycling specialists are waiting to help you test your discoveries and recycle your precious metals for maximum value.

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