Third Beach

Mines, Active?

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Ag
Ore minerals gold
Gangue minerals garnet

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale NM
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale C-1
Latitude 64.5402
Longitude -165.3647
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy Third Beach is a buried strandline placer in the inner part of the Nome coastal plain. Near Irene Creek in the Nome B-1 quadrangle, the beach is about 1.5 miles from the coast; at Otter Creek it is about 2.5 miles from the coast, and in the Nome Placer Field (NM251) it is about 3 miles from the coast. The map location is near the north end of the boundary between section 13, T. 11 S., R. 34 W., and section 18, T. 11 S., R. 33 W., Kateel River Meridian. A placer gold deposit on Sunset Creek (NM173) is also on the Third Beach. Third Beach is locality 137 of Cobb (1972 [MF 463], 1978 [OFR 78-93]).

Geologic setting

Geologic description

The Third Beach buried beach placer was discovered in 1904 in exploration shafts. It lies on bedrock at an elevation of about 79 or 80 feet near Little Creek (Moffit, 1907). Exploration and development were rapid, and by 1908 most of the deposit that could be drift mined was exhausted. The beach proved ultimately to be much larger and richer than Present and Second Beaches.
The trace of the beach forms an arch nearly touching Present Beach near Cape Nome and Cripple River, but it is almost 3.5 miles from shore at its central point near Little Creek (outlined by Collier and others, 1908, p. 161). Except for gaps near Snake River and Nome River, Third Beach is nearly continuous, but it is not everywhere rich enough to mine. The richest part is between Little Creek and McDonald Creek, a distance of about 4.5 miles. Third Beach varies in its character, but it is extensively gold-bearing, especially east of Snake River. Near Hastings Creek (Nome B-1 quadrangle), Third Beach is a wide, but low-grade placer deposit that extends as far north as Edna Creek. It appears to have developed on a shifting shore line, barrier bars, and lagoons. About 2.5 miles to the northwest, near Irene Creek and extending to Cunningham Creek, the shoreline abutted against a gravel headland; the beach there is narrow and well defined (Metcalfe and Tuck, 1942, p. 31-32). The beach probably did not form in the vicinity of the ancestral Nome River. A weak strandline on the east side of Nome River, at the elevation of Third Beach, trends south-southeast through Stevens (NM274), Moss (NM275), and Laurada (NM276) Creeks. From upper McDonald to Little Creeks on the west side of Nome River, the beach was confined by schist bedrock and developed a narrow but very rich series of deposits. Overburden above the beach was mainly frozen and ranged from a few feet thick in lower McDonald Creek to about 120 feet thick between Otter and Little Creeks.
Sediments of Third Beach are more angular than those of Present and Second Beaches; they also contain less garnet. Locally, the deposit was mined over a width of more than 300 feet, partly along the true strandline.
An outer, seaward, zone was called the 'slough over'; it formed offshore as the strandline beach was being formed. The slough over commonly was separated from the strandline beach by a line of quartz cobbles and small boulders (Gibson, 1911; Moffit, 1913, p. 114). It was not as rich as the strandline beach. The slope of the slough over zone is similar to that of Present Beach, about 1 foot in 10, increasing in the off-shore part of the zone. Moffit (1913, p. 114) recognized three main deposits of mixed alluvial and marine sediments. These deposits were near Little Creek at the mouth of ancestral Anvil Creek; at Bourbon Creek, the mouth of ancestral Dry Creek; and at Irene Creek, the postulated ancient mouth of Osborne Creek. The gold was relatively coarse near Little Creek; in areas of beach deposits farther from alluvial placers, it was similar in size to that found on Present and Second Beaches.
Some of the deposits along Third Beach were extremely rich. On the May Fraction a streak 100 feet long, 15 feet wide, and only a few inches thick yielded 330,000 dollars worth of gold (in dollars of about 1910), some pans exceeding 500 dollars in value.
Geologic map unit (-165.367301809162, 64.5394349226153)
Mineral deposit model Placer; buried beach (Cox and Singer, 1986; part of model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Third Beach was discovered in 1904 in exploration shafts near Little Creek. Most of the deposits rich enough to drift mine were exhausted by 1908. Some deposits then were mined in hydraulic open-pits using hydraulic lifts. Starting in the 1920s, with the development of cold-water thawing, several areas were dredged. Dredging started again in the 1970s and lasted until about 1994.
Indication of production Yes
Production notes Extensive production took place but estimates of the amount of recovered gold are not available.