At 75 to 100 miles southwest of McGrath, placers in the Georgetown district are mined at Snow Gulch and Julian Creek. Gold was also found in nearby Omega, Lewis, Quartz, Ruby, Snow and Queen Gulches. This region, known as Donlin Creek, includes some pristine gold flakes and fragile nuggets suggestive of a nearby lode source which first attracted the attention of WestGold Exploration in the 1980s.
Very fragile nugget attached to rounded, stream worn pebble from Snow Gulch. Dr. Paul Graff suggested such nuggets form by precipitation of gold mobilized by organic acids at the Donlin Creek lode. The gold in solution is carried by surface water to a point where it precipitates due to organic material. Such placers can thus regenerate over short periods of time.
As a result, geologists from WestGold, began exploration in this area and discovered a large disseminated gold deposit with >5-mile strike length.
The deposit consists of a group of felsic sills and dikes that host gold in association with quartz veinlets and breccias. The higher gold values are associated with arsenopyrite and stibnite (antimony iron sulfide) and associated with sills that intrude a thick sequence (>5000 feet) of folded graywacke, sandstone and shale. When developed, mining is anticipated at 1.5 million oz/yr from ore with average grade of 0.07 to 0.08 opt Au.
Far left - rehealed greywacke breccia at Donlin Creek and left - stibnite with boxworks.
Donlin Creek is one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world.
If developed based on 2009 plans, the property will become one of the largest gold mines in the world. Mine permit applications were scheduled for submission in 2009 and construction proposed for 2012. Drilling over several years by various companies identified proven and probable resources of 29.5 million ounces with an indicated resource of 10 million ounces of gold (worth >$42 billion at today's prices). Thus, Donlin Creek is similar in size to the legendary Homestake mine (which produced a total of 41 million ounces during its lifetime) and Donlin also hosts as much gold as has been mined in all of Alaska from 1869 to 2007! This one deposit contains >2.5 times the amount of gold that has been mined in Arizona throughout the state's entire history.
Paul Graff stands next to Mrs. Lyman posing in front of Donlin Creek airlines flight 13 following rough landing at Snow Gulch. Dan Hausel mapping on ridge with Snow Gulch in background (1988). Mapping in the Queen trench at Donlin Creek with getaway vehicle (used to getaway from all the bears). And bottom right - group sits outside of Snow Gulch Hilton in 1988. Part of the discovery team includes Rob Rutherford (Standing left), Paul Graff (standing Right) and Dan Hausel (sitting right).
Gold at Julian Creek sits in a similar setting as Donlin Creek. And mercury- gold anomalies at DeCourcy to the west and placer gold at Flat Creek to the north are also of interest but remain relatively unexplored for lode deposits.
Far left - Celebrating July 4th (1988) in Flat Alaska by visiting some of the abandoned dredges, and Left - gold nuggets from one cleanup at Julian Creek. The following day, prospectors at Julian Creek found several more nuggets including an 11 ounce nugget.
One of the greatest honors for a geologist is recognition for one's work & accomplishments.
Seven geologists were recognized by the PDAC in Toronto in 2009 for discovery of one of the largest gold deposits in the world in 1988 and 1989. Unfortunately, two of the discovery team members are no longer with us - Bruce Hickok died in an avalanche and Toni Hinderman also passed away before receiving this award. A short video about this discovery is presented on the NovaGold website.