If you’re of the gold hunting mindset, being able to locate an ancient river bed can mean a huge pay day. Where an ancient river once flowed could be the location of huge amounts of gold, depending on the region of the world.

Ancient riverbeds are not easy to find, however. If they were, everyone would have located them already and plundered all the gold. More times than not, sings of ancient riverbed are hidden under several feet of overburden. The signs of a former river could be long gone over the millennia.

But, you can often find signs where there is erosion or land slides. In this way, layers of earth may be revealed showing signs of an ancient riverbed and eventually leading to gold in an oxbow or an ancient waterfall.

If you are truly interesting in seeking out the world’s buried treasure then knowing how to locate an ancient river bed is chiefly important. Here are four ways to identify an ancient river bed.

Rounded rocks

A tell tale sign of any river are rounded rocks. Think about the rocks you typically see in a current river. They are smooth after years and years of water erosion. So it just goes to reason that ancient river beds will reveal a layer of similar rounded rocks.

Alluvial gravel

Along with smooth rocks, you should also find gravel that’s been smoothed by years of river flow. Alluvial gravel is on its way to becoming sand. We can all imagine a beach of tiny pebbles. That’s about what you should expect to come across when you locate an ancient river bed.

Sign in existing riverbank

Looking at an existing riverbank can sometimes offer clues as to the direction of an ancient river. You might find, for instance, a layer of alluvial gravel above the current water level indicating the river once traveled in a different direction. This could be a clue to search in that direction for more signs.

Cottonwood trees

Vegetation can also be a good indicator of where an ancient riverbed once flowed. Cottonwood trees in particular grow well in areas with small traces of water. So where there are cottonwoods or willows or other vegetation more suited to riverbanks, it could be a sign there’s water down there somewhere.