Smith Creek

Mine, Active

Alternative names

Smith Gulch

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Sb
Ore minerals gold; stibnite

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale WI
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale B-1
Latitude 67.4712
Longitude -150.2126
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy Smith Creek is a west-flowing tributary to Nolan Creek; its mouth is near the old town of Nolan on Nolan Creek. The workings extend for approximately 1.5 miles along the creek above its mouth and the coordinates are at about the center of the workings. Smith Creek flows across the northern half of sections 33 and 34, T. 31 N., R. 12 W. The location is accurate.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

According to Maddren (1913), the placer deposits in the Nolan Creek basin occur in the shallow gravels of the modern channel, as bench deposits, and in deep, frozen gravels. Mining of the shallow gravels began in 1903, two years after their discovery. Maddren (1913) described the gold from upper Smith Creek as mostly rough, angular grains; the gold becomes progressively more rounded and coarser downstream. Some of the gold near the head of Smith Creek is coated by a white substance that Maddren did not identify although he suspected that it might be 'lime' (calcite?). Based on analysis of six gold samples, Eden (2000) concluded that the gold occurs in two different populations, defined by either high or low silver content. The gold in the six samples ranged from 925 to 986 fine. Eden also suggested that the gold in the Nolan-Hammond area has been derived from two gold-bearing vein systems in the area. The rocks in the valley of Smith Creek are micaceous schist, phyllite, and slate (Eden, 2000).
The gravel along the lower 2 miles of the modern channel of Smith Creek was selectively mined in richer spots during the early mining activity in the 1900s, but there is little information about this mining. Gravel in the modern channel that was mined in the 1920s and 1930s was 6 to 20 feet thick (Bundtzen, 2008, 2009). The gravel was frozen, coarse and subangular, and contained a few boulders. The gold was both coarse, rough and pitted, and smooth, rounded and waterworn. The value of the ground was about $0.30 per square foot of bedrock (gold at $20.67 per ounce).
The deep channel on Smith Creek rose from a depth of 135 feet near its mouth to merge upstream with the modern channel. By 1937, this deep channel was considered to be mined out by the methods available at that time. Reed (1938) reported that remnants of the bench channel on Smith Creek had been mined at several locations along the creek. The gravel was frozen and generally coarse and subangular. The gold from one of these locations was mostly coarse, unworn and pitted, but some was smooth, rounded and worn. This gold occurred throughout the gravel but most was in the lower few feet; there were no large nuggets. The gold was about 950 fine.
Most years between 1979 and 2007, Silverado Gold Mining Inc. mined along Nolan Creek (WI101) and its tributaries Fay Creek (WI112) and Archibald Creek (Bundtzen, 2008,2009). Apparently however, Silverado did not mine on Smith Creek. Bundtzen (2008, 2009) estimated an 'inferred resource' of 35,500 cubic yards of gravel about 1,500 feet above the mouth of Smith Creek, with an average grade of 0.030 ounce of gold per cubic yard (or about 1,065 ounces of gold).
Maddren (1913) reported that $208,000 (about 10,400 oz.) in gold was produced from Smith Creek from 1903 to 1909. Eden (2000) reported that a total of about 15,141 ounces of gold were produced from Smith Creek between 1904 and 1999. Kurtak and others (2002) document somewhat different production numbers year by year from 1903 to 1948. Their data indicate that the total production during that period was 17,811 ounces. The most productive period was from 1902 to 1907, when 8,689 ounces of gold was mined.
Cobb (1973) notes that 5 tons of placer and lode stibnite was recovered from somewhere on Smith Creek and shipped during World War II, perhaps from stibnite prospects on Workman's Bench (WI115) or Pringle Bench (WI 114) on the hillsides above lower Smith Creek.
Geologic map unit (-150.215349039444, 67.4707737532514)
Mineral deposit model Placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.
Alteration of deposit Not specified.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Smith Creek was worked by hand-mining and hydraulic methods from about 1903 until the early 1960s.
Indication of production Yes
Reserve estimates Bundtzen (2008 and 2009) estimated an 'inferred resource' of 35,500 cubic yards of gravel, centered about 1,500 feet above the mouth of Smith Creek, with an average grade of 0.030 ounce of gold per cubic yard (or about 1,065 ounces of gold).
Production notes Maddren (1913) reported that $208,000 (about 10,400 oz.) in gold was produced from Smith Creek from 1903 to 1909. Eden (2000) reported that a total of about 15,141 ounces of gold were produced from Smith Creek between 1904 and 1999. Kurtak and others (2002) document somewhat different production year by year from 1903 to 1948. Their data indicate that the total production during that period was 17,811 ounces. The most productive period was from 1902 to 1907, when 8,689 ounces of gold was mined. Cobb (1973) notes that 5 tons of placer and lode stibnite was recovered from somewhere on Smith Creek and shipped during World War II, perhaps from stibnite prospects on Workman's Bench (WI115) or Pringle Bench (WI 114) on the hillsides above lower Smith Creek.

References

MRDS Number A011947

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