Present (First) Beach

Mines, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Ag
Ore minerals gold; ilmenite; limonite; pyrite
Gangue minerals garnet

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale NM
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale C-1
Latitude 64.4999
Longitude -165.4262
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy
Present Beach is the active beach along the coast of Norton Sound near Nome. It extends southeast for about 12 miles from the mouth of Snake River to Cape Nome and northwest about 18 miles from Snake River to Quartz Creek in the Nome C-3 quadrangle (NM159).
The most important part of the Present Beach placer was approximately centered on the mouth of Snake River (as in figure 7, Collier and others, 1908) and is in the Nome C-1 and B-1 quadrangles. The map location is where Present Beach crosses the boundary between the Nome C-1 and B-1 quadrangles. It is near the west end of the south edge of section 26, T. 11 S., R. 34 W., Kateel River Meridian. Present Beach is locality 142 of Cobb (1972 [MF 463], 1978 [OFR 78-93]).

Geologic setting

Geologic description

Gold was discovered in Present Beach in 1899, about one year after the discovery of alluvial gold in Anvil and other creeks. Geologist A.H. Brooks of the U. S. Geological Survey examined the deposits in 1899 and 1900 and provided a first-hand scientific account of the beach (Brooks and others, 1901, p. 85-91). According to Brooks, ' . . . the lowest bench of the coastal plain ends in an escarpment, 10 to 20 feet high on the seaward side. From the base of the escarpment the beach slopes to the sea at an angle of 4 to 5 [degrees], having a width of 50 to 75 yards. Ordinarily the wave action is confined to the lower third, but during severe storms the surf sometimes rolls up the full width of the beach. . . . The beach sand consists largely of quartz, usually stained with iron, and mica and chlorite schist fragments. Reddish garnets form an important constituent, sometimes predominating. . . . Magnetite is always present, but usually forms less than 1 per cent by weight, though in the concentrated form found in the pay streaks it may run as high as 10 percent. Brooks' associate, A. J. Collier, found that most of the beach material was coarser than 60 mesh and that garnet constituted about 4 to 5 per cent by weight.
Most of the placer formed on or above a blue clay substrate that dipped slightly more steeply than the beach, so that clay often was commonly found at a depth of about 5 to 7 feet half-way down the beach. The pay occurred as thin lenses that rarely could be traced for more than a few hundred feet. The maximum thickness of pay lenses was about 3 feet. The average pay streak sands were somewhat finer than the average beach sands and contained more of the denser minerals.
Gold was generally fine grained; some small nuggets weighed as much as 0.05 ounce. The gold was about 890 fine and flaky, and it amalgamated readily. Schrader and Brooks (1900) proposed that the major part of the gold in the beach placers was derived by wave action and concentration of underlying, weakly auriferous and largely unconsolidated material, a mechanism generally accepted by later geologists such as Metcalfe and Tuck (1942).
At the time of the Collier report on activities through 1906 (Collier and others, 1908), beach production totaled about 2,000,000 dollars, or somewhat less than 100,000 ounces at the 20.67 dollars per ounce price of gold. Most of this was derived from the central part of Present Beach, and about one-half was produced in the discovery year (1899). About 350,000 dollars worth of gold (17,000 ounces) was mined in 1900, and production continued to decline thereafter. To some extent, gold concentrations of Present Beach are replenished by winter storms each year, and a small production continues to the present (2000).
Geologic map unit (-165.428782976303, 64.4991314859871)
Mineral deposit model Beach placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Holocene.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Gold on Present Beach was discovered in 1899, and production began immediately. Approximately half of the total production from this beach occurred in 1899 (about 1,000,000 dollars or about 50,000 ounces). About 350,000 dollars or 17,000 ounces of gold were recovered from the beach in 1900. Probably at least 80 percent of the total production came from the part of the beach near Nome. At first, mining was by pan and rockers, but gold was also mined with pump and sluice setups, essentially all by hand shovel-in methods (Schrader and Brooks, 1900; Brooks and others, 1901; Collier and others, 1908; Metcalfe and Tuck, 1942).
Indication of production Yes
Production notes The most important year of production was 1899, when about 1,000,000 dollars, or about 50,000 ounces of gold were recovered. About 350,000 dollars, or 17,000 ounces of gold were recovered in 1900. Some production continues (2000) and can be expected to continue almost indefinitely. Total production is probably about 100,000 ounces of gold.