Anvil Creek

Mine, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Ag; Pb; W
Ore minerals galena; gold; magnetite; scheelite
Gangue minerals garnet

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale NM
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale C-1
Latitude 64.5637
Longitude -165.4154
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy This record describes the Anvil Creek system of placer gold deposits upstream of the Nome coastal plain. The map location is on the discovery claim, just west of the center of section 2, T. 11 S., R. 34 W., Kateel River Meridian. The site is approximately the same as locality 102 of Cobb (1972 [MF 463], 1978 [OFR 78-93]).

Geologic setting

Geologic description

Placer gold was discovered on lower Anvil Creek at an elevation of about 150 feet on September 22, 1898; by the end of 1898, the creek was staked between the coastal plain and Nekula Gulch (U.S. Mineral Survey plats, especially No. 722). The discoverers were the principals of the Pioneer Mining Company, Lindeberg, Lindblom, and Brynteson, and their associates. One claim, Nine Above, was initially proposed to be staked for Eskimos named Gabriel Adams and Constantine Uparazuck in recognition of their aid. The claim was otherwise staked and litigation over Nine Above lasted for decades.
The operators recovered about 100 ounces of gold soon after their discovery, but it was to late in the season for intensive mining (Collier and others, 1908, p. 17-18). Intensive mining began in 1899; nuggets weighing between 20 and 25 ounces were found, and in 1900 about 1,750,000 dollars (85,000 ounces) worth of placer gold was produced on Anvil Creek. Cumulative production from discovery until the end of 1900 was estimated at 3,000,000 dollars or about 145,000 ounces of fine gold (Schrader and Brooks, 1900, p. 17; Brooks and others, 1901, p. 69, 71-74). The valley bottom placer was nearly exhausted by the end of 1902 (Collier and others, 1908, p. 31). The width of pay ranged from about 50 feet in the lower canyon to as much as 500 feet above Specimen Gulch. In the canyon, the pay gravel was 3 to 5 feet thick under a thin cover of muck and clay. Most of the gold was on bedrock, but it occurred throughout the gravel and in the top 1 to 2 feet of bedrock. By 1902, bench deposits were being mined (Brooks, 1903), especially on the east side of Anvil Creek (Collier and others, 1908, see figure 11, p. 189). The first hydraulic lifts were installed in about 1903, and a steam shovel was in use by 1904 (Brooks, 1905). Engineer C.W. Purington presented data on mining costs and methods and reported that gold from the bench gravels was very slightly purer than gold from the creeks; most of the gold was very close to 900 fine (Purington, 1905). Dredging of previously mined ground was introduced by 1922 (Brooks and Capps, 1924) and lasted until about 1929 (Smith, 1932).
Two east-side benches were channels incised in bedrock. In places gold-bearing gravels spilled over the downhill bedrock rims of the channels, and bench placer pay mingled with the creek channel placers. In one cut, granitic boulders as well as a 40-pound galena nugget were found (Collier and others, 1908, p. 191).
Placer gold in Anvil Creek had multiple sources. Some could have been derived from mineralized bedrock exposed on Banner Peak, Bonanza Hill, and the saddle between Anvil Creek and Snow Gulch. Much of the gold, however, apparently came from high-level placers near Nekula Gulch at the head of Anvil Creek. Mining of rich bench deposits on the east side of upper Anvil Creek took place until World War II (Smith, 1941, 1942). Mining commenced again on a moderate scale after the increase of gold price in 1968, especially in the bowl between Nekula and Specimen Gulches. From 1993 until at least 1995, virgin bench deposits on the east side were mined by open-cut methods. These deposits and some of those in upper Anvil Creek could not be mined in earlier years because of conflicts with water supply, roads, and railroads.
The shallow placers exploited early in the history of Anvil Creek probably averaged about 0.25 ounce of gold per cubic yard; some contained as much as 2.5 ounces of gold per cubic yard. Production in the first five years was about 1,000,000 dollars per year, or a total of about 250,000 ounces. The largest nugget reported was a gold-quartz nugget containing about 129 ounces of gold (Moffit, 1913, p. 79-83). Total production to date is probably about 500,000 ounces.
The Anvil Creek fault zone transects the area more or less along Anvil Creek. This fault is a through-going, high-angle structure that juxtaposes different types of graphitic schist in this area (Hummel, 1962 [MF 247]). Bedrock is mostly graphitic schist that probably of early Paleozoic protolith age (Hummel, 1962 [MF-247]; Sainsbury, Hummel, and Hudson, 1972 [OFR 72-326]; Till and Dumoulin, 1994; Bundtzen and others, 1994).
Geologic map unit (-165.417998137891, 64.5629334720279)
Mineral deposit model Alluvial placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary; parts of Anvil Creek are at low enough elevations to have been influenced by Quaternary sea-level fluctuations.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Gold was discovered on Anvil Creek in September, 1898, and by the end of the year all of Anvil Creek between the coastal plain and Nekula Gulch was staked. From 1899 to 1902, rich and shallow alluvial deposits were mined, mostly by small-scale methods. Production from bench deposits began by 1903; they were mined partly by hydraulic elevators and partly by mechanical-hydraulic methods. Anvil Creek was dredged from about 1922 until 1932. In the 1930s, bench pay was mined, including the bench deposits near Specimen Gulch. In the 1990s, virgin ground was mined above Specimen Gulch and between Specimen Gulch and the coastal plain on the east side of Anvil Creek. These deposits could not be mined earlier because of land or water conflicts.
Indication of production Yes; large
Production notes Anvil Creek is a major gold producer in the Nome mining district; the estimated total gold production is 500,000 ounces.


MRDS Number A012906; D002851


Brooks, A.H., Richardson, G.B., Collier, A.J., and W.C. Mendenhall, 1901, A reconnaissance in the Cape Nome and adjacent gold fields of Seward Peninsula, Alaska, in 1900: U.S. Geological Survey Special Publication, p. 1-185, maps.
Till, A.B., and Dumoulin, J.A, 1994, Geology of Seward Peninsula and St. Lawrence Island, in Plafker, G., and Berg, H.C., eds., The Geology of Alaska: Geological Society of America, DNAG, The Geology of North America, v. G-1, p. 141-152.
Reporters C.C. Hawley and Travis L. Hudson
Last report date 7/10/2000