Willow Creek

Past Producer in Alaska, United States with commodities Gold, Silver, Platinum

Geologic information

Identification information

Deposit ID 10308996
MRDS ID A013407
Record type Site
Current site name Willow Creek
Related records 10136634, 10101002

Geographic coordinates

Geographic coordinates: -161.90893, 61.8053 (WGS84)
Relative position Willow Creek flows south to Spruce Creek from headwaters near the summit of Mount Okumiak. Placer mining took place along about 2 miles of the drainage from the headwaters of the west fork of Willow Creek downstream to an elevation of about 200 feet. The map site is on the creek at the village of Willow Creek, near the west boundary of sec. 24, T. 20 N., R. 70 W., of the Seward Meridian. This is locality 7 of Hoare and Cobb (1972,1977).
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Geographic areas

Country State
United States Alaska

Commodities

Commodity Importance
Gold Primary
Silver Secondary
Platinum Secondary

Materials information

Materials Type of material
Gold Ore
Hematite Ore
Ilmenite Ore
Magnetite Ore
Platinum Ore

Mineral occurrence model information

Model code 119
USGS model code 39a
BC deposit profile C01. C02
Deposit model name Placer Au-PGE
Mark3 model number 54

Nearby scientific data

(1) -161.90893, 61.8053

Comments on the geologic information

  • Geologic Description = Placer gold was discovered on Willow Creek in 1914. Mining started in 1915, and more than 12,000 ounces were produced in 1916 (Hoare and Cobb, 1977). By the 1950's, placer mining took place along about 2 miles of the drainage from the headwaters of the west fork of Willow Creek near the Arnold lode prospect (RM005) downstream to an elevation of about 200 feet. The deposits were rich. Retherford (1987) estimated that the average grade may have been 0.049 ounce of gold per cubic yard and Brooks (1922) reported that recovery was as much as one-third ounce ($6) of gold per cubic yard. As much as 85,000 ounces of gold may have been produced from Willow Creek by the 1950's (Retherford, 1987). Inasmuch as many of the gravels were coarse and bouldery, much mining included the separate washing of large, angular boulders. Retherford (1987) divided the creek into three segments: (1) the upper canyon is the first mile below the Arnold prospect, where the steep-walled, narrow valley carries 5 to 15 feet of gravel on bedrock; (2) the lower canyon is the next 3,500 feet of the creek, where the flood plain gradually broadens downstream and the alluvial fill is 15 to 35 feet thick; and (3) the next mile downstream is an alluvial fan ('deltaic') complex that has not been mined. The gold was commonly coarse and concentrated on bedrock in the upper canyon. In the middle part of the lower canyon, 15 feet of overburden alluvium with moderate to low gold values covered a thin clay hardpan. Below the hardpan, gold was distributed through 15 feet of a bouldery and clayey pay zone above bedrock (Retherford, 1987). Placer concentrates contained magnetite, ilmenite, hematite, and minor platinum (Harrington, 1918). Retherford (1987) estimated that the potential reserves at Willow Creek include (1) about 480,000 cubic yards of tailings with a grade of 0.008 to 0.012 ounce of gold per cubic yard; and (2) 2,715,000 cubic yards of unmined material in the alluvial fan complex that may have a grade of 0.02 ounce of gold per cubic yard. The low elevation (in part about 150 feet) and proximity to the lower Yukon River lowlands suggests that Quaternary sea-level fluctuations may have influenced the development of the Willow Creek placer deposit.
  • Age = Quaternary.

Economic information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Development status Past Producer
Commodity type Metallic

Mining district

District name Marshall

Comments on the production information

  • Production Notes = Retherford (1987) estimated that the average grade may have been 0.049 ounce of gold per cubic yard,and Brooks (1922) reported that recovery was as much as one-third ounce ($6) of gold per cubic yard. As much as 85,000 ounces of gold may have been produced from Willow Creek by the 1950s (Retherford, 1987).

Comments on the reserve resource information

  • Reserves = Retherford (1987) estimated that the potential reserves at Willow Creek include (1) about 480,000 cubic yards of tailings with a grade of 0.008 to 0.012 ounce of gold per cubic yard, and (2) 2,715,000 cubic yards of unmined material in the alluvial fan complex that may have a grade of 0.02 ounce of gold per cubic yard.

Comments on the workings information

  • Workings / Exploration = Hand methods, draglines, scrapers, and eventually dozers were used in mining. A ditch was built in 1917 to divert water from Slope Creek to Willow Creek for use in hydraulic mining. A dryland dredge was brought in after WWII and operated for a few years. Many exploration shafts were sunk along the lower part of the creek, nearby tributaries, and along the mountain front both to the east and west of Willow Creek (Retherford, 1987).

Reference information

Links to other databases

Agency Database name Acronym Record ID Notes
USGS Alaska Resource Data File ARDF RM006
USGS Mineral Resources Data System MRDS A013407
USGS Mineral Resources Data System MRDS M045400

Bibliographic references

  • Deposit

    Harrington, G.L., 1918, The Anvik-Andreafsky region, Alaska (including the Marshall district): U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 683, 70 p.

  • Deposit

    Brooks, A.H., 1922, The Alaska mining industry in 1920: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 722-A, p. 1-74.

  • Deposit

    Hoare, J M., and Cobb, E.H., 1972, Metallic mineral resources map of the Russian Mission quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-444, scale 1:250,000.

  • Deposit

    Hoare, J.M., and Cobb, E.H., 1977, Mineral occurrences (other than mineral fuels and construction materials) in the Bethel, Goodnews, and Russian Mission quadrangles, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 77-156, 98 p.

  • Deposit

    Retherford, R.M., 1987, Willow Creek Placer, Marshall District: Calista Corporation, Anchorage, unpublished report, 14 p.

  • Deposit

    Hoare, J M., and Cobb, E.H., 1972, Metallic mineral resources map of the Russian Mission quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-444, 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000.

Comments on the references

  • Primary Reference = Retherford, 1987

General comments

Subject category Comment text
Deposit Model Name = Placer Au-PGE (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a)

Reporter information

Type Date Name Affiliation Comment
Reporter 10-JUN-2001 Travis L. Hudson Applied Geology
Reporter 10-JUN-2001 Madelyn A. Millholland Millholland & Associates