Nolan Creek

Mine, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Ore minerals gold

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale WI
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale B-1
Latitude 67.4745
Longitude -150.2324
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy Nolan Creek is a south-southwesterly-flowing tributary of Wiseman Creek; its mouth is about 5 miles northwest of Wiseman. The coordinates are at the old town of Nolan just above the mouth of Smith Creek. The placer deposits extend for about 1 mile below and 1.75 miles above the town. The productive portion of Nolan Creek crosses sections 27, 28, and 33, T. 31 N., R. 12 W. The location is accurate.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

There are three types of gold placers on Nolan Creek: 1) placers in shallow gravel just below the mouth of Fay Creek along the present channel of Nolan Creek; 2) a deep channel roughly under the present course of Nolan Creek from downstream of the mouth of Fay Creek to just below Smith Creek, and 3) bench deposits along the east side of the Nolan Creek valley from just north of Archibald Creek to 0.5 mile south of Smith Creek. The deep channel has been by far the most productive.
The present channel in Nolan Creek was mined just below the mouth of Fay Creek (near the Discovery claim) from 1903 to 1905. This placer and placers in shallow gravels on Smith and Fay Creeks produced a considerable amount of gold. The shallow gravels on Nolan Creek were about 3.5 feet thick and lay on false bedrock in the valley fill. Reed (1938) suggested that the gold in this placer was derived from erosion of gold-bearing gravels in Fay Creek. The auriferous gravel was 20 to 75 feet wide. The deposits were small and mined out in a short time (Reed, 1938).
The most productive of the Nolan Creek placers has been along the deep channel that roughly coincides with the present course of Nolan Creek from near the mouth of Fay Creek to about three-quarters of a mile below the mouth of Smith Creek, i.e., for about 2 miles. At its upper end, bedrock is about 20 feet deep; it gradually deepens to over 200 feet at its lower end. The average gradient of the deep channel is about 2 percent but there are sections with steeper gradients and 'dropoffs' as the deep channel goes down valley. The gravel and overlying fill in Nolan Creek is frozen. It is waterworn and generally fairly fine but large boulders commonly are scattered throughout the gravel. The gold in the deep channel lies directly on bedrock. It is rounded and waterworn and generally coarse grained; nuggets up to 40 ounces have been found. Values, according to Reed (1938), vary from $1.15 to as much as $15 per square foot of bedrock (gold at $35 per ounce). In addition to the principal deep channel, there are sections of other deep channels that have been preserved at levels above the main deep channel. Reed (1938) speculated that these remnants may have been bench deposits formed either when the deep-channel stream was active, or when an aggrading Nolan Creek deposited gold in channels cut in the valley walls as it meandered across the valley floor.
The deep channel was drift mined from before 1913 (Maddren, 1913) to 1938 when it was considered to be mined out (Reed, 1938). In 1989, Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. attempted to reach the deep channel near the mouth of Acme Creek (WI120) with a decline but was unsuccessful. However, in 1996, Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. began mining the deep channel from a decline and continued drift mining on it in 1998 and 1999 (Bundtzen, 2008).
The bench deposits on Nolan Creek are its east side from just north of Archibald Creek to about a half mile south of Smith Creek. The tops of the bench deposits are 50 to 200 feet above the modern stream channel and bedrock is covered by 40 to 100 feet of overburden. The auriferous gravel varies from 50 to 200 feet wide and extend 300 to 1,000 feet. From north to south, the bench deposits along the east side of Nolan Creek are: the Wooll Bench, the Swede Channel, Mary's Bench, Pingel Bench, and Workman Bench. The gravel in these bench deposits is frozen and coarse but contains few boulders. The gold is coarse; it includes small nuggets and a few large nuggets. The gold fineness varies from 885 to 962. According to Reed (1938) these deposits varied in value from $0.25 to $4.20 per square foot of bedrock (gold at $35 per ounce).
The bench deposits were drift mined in early years with water brought in by ditches but mining was difficult due to the lack of a reliable water supply. In 1991 and 1992, Inside Out Mining drift mined the Nolan Bench. In 1993, Silverado purchased the bench claims (and claims covering many of the streams in the area) and began mining them. In 1988, Silverado mined the Swede Channel and Mary's Bench, and in 1999, the Workman Bench.
Most years between 1979 and 2007, Silverado mined along Nolan Creek and its tributaries Fay Creek (WI112), Archibald Creek (WI113), and Smith Creek (WI116). During that period, the placers produced 23,150 ounces of gold from 271,771 cubic yards of gravel with an average grade of 0.085 ounce of gold per cubic yard. More than two-thirds of the production was by underground drift mining in the winter; the rest was by open-cut mining with heavy equipment in the summer. Some of the mining was to test the gravels east of Nolan Creek or in its tributaries. Most of the gold, probably about 20,000 ounces was produced from the bench deposits east of Nolan Creek. Most of the production took place between 1993 and 1995 but continued at various places along benches on the east side of the creek until 2007.
Nolan Creek has produced gold for at least 63 of the years between 1904 and 2000; the most productive period was 1908 and 1909, when it produced more than 93,000 ounces of gold. Eden (2000) reports that a total of 135,437.70 ounces of gold was produced from it between 1904 and 1999. Kurtak and others (2002) provide (incomplete) production figures year by year from 1904 to 2000 that total 147,045 ounces of gold. Bundtzen (2008) estimates that Nolan Creek and its tributaries, Smith Creek (WI116), Archibald Creek (WI113), and Fay Creek (WI112), have produced about 185,000 ounces of gold from 1901 to 2007.
Bundtzen (2008) estimated that Nolan Creek and its tributaries still had: 1) an 'indicated resource' of 66,800 cubic yards of gravel with an average grade of 0.095 ounce of gold per cubic yard (or 6,250 ounces of gold); and 2) an 'inferred resource' of 103, 500 cubic yards of gravel that contain 3,012 ounces of gold. This gold is in several locations along the Nolan Deep Channel between the mouth of Fay Creek and the mouth of Archibald Creek; in two bench deposits east of Nolan Creek between Fay Creek and Smith Creek; and in shallow gravel along Smith Creek (WI116).
Geologic map unit (-150.235149542897, 67.4740735062052)
Mineral deposit model Placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Nolan Creek has been extensively mined and prospected beginning in 1903 and continuing until until at least 2007, with production in at least 63 of those years (Kurtak and others, 2002; Bundtzen, 2008, 2009). Most mining into the 1960s was by underground drifting. Mining since 1979 has been by a combination of open-pit operation in the summer and underground drift mining in frozen gravel in the winter.
Indication of production Yes; small
Reserve estimates Bundtzen (2008) estimated that Nolan Creek and its tributaries still had: 1) an 'indicated resource' of 66,800 cubic yards of gravel with an average grade of 0.095 ounce of gold per cubic yard (or 6,250 ounces of gold); and 2) an 'inferred resource' of 103, 500 cubic yards of gravel that contain 3,012 ounces of gold. This gold is in several locations along the Nolan Deep Channel between the mouth of Fay Creek and the mouth of Archibald Creek; in two bench deposits east of Nolan Creek between Fay Creek and Smith Creek; and in shallow gravel along Smith Creek (WI116).
Production notes Nolan Creek has produced gold for at least 63 of the years between 1904 and 2000; the most productive period was 1908 and 1909 when it produced more than 93,000 ounces of gold. Eden (2000) reports that a total of 135,437.70 ounces of gold was produced from Nolan Creek between 1904 and 1999. Kurtak and others (2002) provides (incomplete) production figures year by year from 1904 to 2000 that total 147,045 ounces of gold. Bundtzen (2008) estimates that Nolan Creek and its tributaries--Smith Creek (WI116), Archibald Creek (WI113), and Fay Creek (WI112)-- have produced about 185,000 ounces of gold from 1901 to 2007.

References

MRDS Number A011002

References

Kurtak, J.M., Klieforth, R.F., Clark, J.M., and Maclean, E.A., 2002, Mineral investigations in the Koyukuk mining district, northern Alaska: Final Report: U.S. Bureau of Land Management Technical Report 50, v. 1 and 2, 845 p.
Reporters J.M. Britton (Anchorage); D.J. Grybeck (Contractor, USGS)
Last report date 2/1/2011