Sophie Gulch (Rock Creek)

Producer in Alaska, United States with commodities Gold, Tungsten, Lead

Geologic information

Identification information

Deposit ID 10308953
MRDS ID A012888
Record type Site
Current site name Sophie Gulch (Rock Creek)
Related records 10160160, 10002039

Geographic coordinates

Geographic coordinates: -165.41898, 64.61308 (WGS84)
Relative position Sophie Gulch is a small east tributary to Rock Creek that enters Rock Creek at an elevation of about 230 feet and about 0.85 mile northeast of the Rock Creek crossing of the Snake River road. Sophie Gulch was included in localities 43 and 98 of Cobb (1972 [MF 463], 1978 [OFR 78-93]). The location shown as Sophie Gulch by Hummel (1962 [MF 247, location 17]) is the same as the Walsh Cut (NM214) of this report. The Sophie Gulch deposit was covered by U.S. Mineral Survey No. 721 (No. 1 Sophie Gulch Placer). The map location is just inside the north-central border of section 23, T. 10 S., R. 34 W., Kateel River Meridian and it is accurate to within 500 feet.
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Geographic areas

Country State
United States Alaska


Commodity Importance
Gold Primary
Tungsten Primary
Lead Secondary

Materials information

Materials Type of material
Arsenopyrite Ore
Galena Ore
Gold Ore
Hematite Ore
Pyrite Ore
Scheelite Ore
Albite Gangue
Calcite Gangue
Quartz Gangue


  • Silicification, albitization, sulfidization, and oxidation of arsenopyrite to hematite.

Mineral occurrence model information

Model code 273
USGS model code 36a
Deposit model name Low-sulfide Au-quartz vein
Mark3 model number 27

Nearby scientific data

(1) -165.41898, 64.61308

Comments on the geologic information

  • Geologic Description = Sophie Gulch was placer mined for tungsten (scheelite) in 1916 (Mertie, 1918 [B 662-I, p. 457]); presumably some gold was also recovered. The mine location was about 300 feet above the point where Sophie Gulch enters the flood plain of Rock Creek. The tungsten deposit was a residual placer on mineralized bedrock; the bedrock itself was described as too low grade to be mined. About 4,000 to 5,000 cubic yards of residual placer material were mined and sluiced here that year. Mertie (1918) believed that the Sophie Gulch deposit produced a large percentage of all the scheelite mined in Alaska during 1916, when scheelite was actively sought because of high World War I prices. Scheelite was also reported on the selvages of the northeast-striking sheeted veins. Cathcart (1922, p. 246) visited Sophie Gulch a few years after Mertie. He reported quartz-feldspar and quartz-calcite veins of 'all directions', arsenopyrite, galena, and pyrite in the veins, and abundant arsenopyrite in the schist walls of the veins. Cathcart described the scheelite as yellow-brown and believed that the reddish hematitic alteration of the schist resulted from oxidation of arsenopyrite. Sophie Gulch closely follows a post-mineral(?), high-angle fault that strikes N 80 W. The fault is generally on the south side of Sophie Gulch; it was exposed and mapped in a trench by Kennecott Exploration Company in 1994. At the mouth of Sophie Gulch, the rocks south of the fault are graphitic quartz schist; the rocks north of the fault are mostly calcareous quartz-mica schist. The schist is cut by northeast-striking sheeted quartz veins. The schist's compositional layering and foliation strike northeast and dip southeast at low to moderate angles. Locally, the calcareous quartz-mica schist contains albitized zones concordant to the schistosity. The schist unit is succeeded upstream by graphitic mica schist. About 200 feet upstream on the north side, a concordant mineralized zone, locally at least 5 feet thick, was also found in Placer Dome's 1987 trench RT-7-7 (Placer Dome, written communication, 1987). Rocks in this zone contain arsenopyrite, subordinate pyrite, albite, and quartz. This zone dips gently to the southeast and appears to be the tungsten mining location described by Mertie when he visited the prospect in 1916 (Mertie, 1918).
  • Age = Mid-Cretaceous; veins cut regionally metamorphosed schist; see NM207.

Economic information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Development status Producer
Commodity type Metallic

Comments on exploration

  • Status = Active

Mining district

District name Nome

Comments on the production information

  • Production Notes = Small production at Sophie Gulch began prior to 1916; it was mined extensively in 1916, mainly for tungsten. About 4,000 to 5,000 cubic yards of scheelite-bearing material were processed in 1916 (Mertie, 1918 [B 662-I, p. 425-449]; Coats, 1944; Thorne and others, 1948; Cobb, 1975).

Comments on the workings information

  • Workings / Exploration = A placer deposit on Sophie Gulch was discovered early in the history of the Nome district. The patent plat issued for No. 1 Sophie Gulch Placer (U.S. Mineral Survey No. 721) shows three cuts in Sophie Gulch itself and a shaft on bedrock north of the gulch. The prospect was developed by shallow underground workings prior to 1916 when it was exploited for tungsten in a hydraulic open cut. Most of the tungsten-rich residual placer was mined then. During World War II, three bulldozer cuts showed very little remaining residual material (Coats, 1944) The area was prospected by R.V. Bailey in the 1980s and was extensively trenched and drilled in 1987 and 1988 by Placer Dome. It was further explored by Newmont in 1992 and by Kennecott Exploration Company in 1994 and 1995. An area that includes Sophie Gulch is being actively explored by Novagold Resources (May, 2000).

Reference information

Links to other databases

Agency Database name Acronym Record ID Notes
USGS Alaska Resource Data File ARDF NM208
USGS Mineral Resources Data System MRDS A012888
USGS Mineral Resources Data System MRDS A012899
USGS Mineral Resources Data System MRDS D002593

Bibliographic references

  • Deposit

    Cathcart, S.H., 1922, Metalliferous lodes in southern Seward Peninsula: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 722, p. 163-261.

  • Deposit

    Thorne, R.L., Muir, N.M., Erickson, A.W., Thomas, B. I., Hedie, H. E., and Wright, W. S., 1948, Tungsten deposits of Alaska: U.S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigation 4174, 22 p.

  • Deposit

    Hummel, C.L., 1962, Preliminary geologic map of the Nome C-1 quadrangle, Seward Peninsula, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-247, 1 sheet, scale 1:63,360.

  • Deposit

    Cobb, E.H., 1972, Metallic mineral resources map of the Nome quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-463, 2 sheets, scale 1:250,000.

  • Deposit

    Cobb, E.H., 1978, Summary of references to mineral occurrences (other than mineral fuels and construction materials) in the Nome quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File report 78-93, 213 p.

  • Deposit

    Coats, R.R., 1944, Lode scheelite occurrences of the Nome area: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 17, 6 p.

  • Deposit

    Thorne, R.L., Muir, N.M., Erickson, A.W., Thomas, B. I., Hedie, H. E., and Wright, W. S., 1948, Tungsten deposits of Alaska: U.S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigation 4174, 51 p.

Comments on the references

  • Primary Reference = This report

General comments

Subject category Comment text
Deposit Model Name = Low-sulfide Au-quartz veins (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 36a); residual scheelite placer.
Deposit Other Comments = In 1944, the unweathered material was too low grade to mine for tungsten (Coats, 1944, p. 3).

Reporter information

Type Date Name Affiliation Comment
Reporter 10-JUL-00 Hawley, C.C. and Hudson, Travis L. Hawley Resource Group