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Caribou Creek Mine, Fairbanks District, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, USA

Latitude: 64°41'13"N
Longitude: 145°42'50"W
Location: Caribou Creek drains south to southwest into the Salcha River. The creek is roughly 6 miles long and has several small tributaries. Mining occurred on the lower 4.5 miles of the creek. The approximate center of the mining activity is in NE1/4NW1/4 section 3, T. 3 S., R. 10 E., of the Fairbanks Meridian. Several trails and a landing strip provide access to the Caribou Creek drainage. It is locality 16 of Cobb and Eberlein (1980), who summarized relevant references under the name 'Caribou Creek'.
Geology: The bedrock in the region comprises schist, gneiss, some granite, and minor amounts of serpentinite and marble. The schist is composed of quartz, feldspar, and mica, with localized garnetiferous and marble zones. The gneiss is coarse to fine grained with various amounts of quartz, feldspar, hornblende, and biotite. The schist and gneiss have suspected protoliths of Precambrian and Paleozoic sedimentary and igneous rocks. The intrusive bodies in the area range in composition from granodiorite to quartz monzonite, and have Cretaceous to Tertiary K-Ar ages (Weber and others, 1978). The gravels in the region average 18 to 20 feet in thickness and contain a variety of schist, gneiss, granite, and vein quartz (Prindle, 1906; B 284). Brooks (1908) reported the fineness of the gold in the area to be higher than that mined in the Richardson district. It is reported that coarse gold, native bismuth, and minor scheelite were found in quartz veins in the Caribou Creek drainage (Menzie and Foster, 1979). Joesting (1942) noted the occurrence of scheelite and cassiterite in stream concentrates. Hasler and others (1973) report igneous and metamorphic-hosted quartz veins containing variable amounts of native bismuth, bismuthinite, gold, graphite, and scheelite at an unknown location in the Caribou Creek drainage. Nuggets of native bismuth, up to 3 inches in diameter were found during placer mining (D.L. Grybeck, oral communication, 1999). Glover (1950) reported a range in gold fineness of 884 to 899 for Caribou Creek. Placer gold was first discovered in the area in 1905. Prospecting initially occurred on Butte Creek (BD006) and expanded to Caribou Creek, and Gold Run Creek (BD016) and associated tributaries. Live water and thawed ground presented the biggest obstacles during prospecting (Prindle, 1906). Initially, only a few holes were sunk to bedrock in gravel deposits 24 to 36 feet thick (Prindle, 1906; B 284). In 1909, Caribou Creek became a major producer in the Salcha-Tenderfoot area. Due to thawed ground, drift mining proved difficult. As a result, machinery for ditching and open-cut methods was installed (Ellsworth, 1910). Smith (1939; B 910-A) reports that drilling programs were carried out in 1937 to justify the installation of a dredge equipped with 6-cubic-foot buckets. Additional drilling and evaluation was continued in 1938 and 1939 (Smith, 1941). A dredge was installed in the 1940's and worked most of the stream length (Eberlein and others, 1977). The dredge is still located approximately 4.5 miles up the stream bed (M.B. Werdon, oral communication, 1998). Historically, Caribou Creek has been grouped with the mines and prospects of the Richardson district. From 1905 through 1921, production from the Richardson district was approximately 95,000 ounces of gold and 24,000 ounces of silver (Bundtzen and Reger, 1977). Since 1980, the district has produced approximately 10,000 additional ounces of gold from intermittent mining (Olson and others, 1985). Individual gold production for Caribou Creek has not been reported separately. Exploration to determine the lode source for the placer gold is currently (1998) being conducted in the Caribou Creek drainage (R. Van Nieuwenhuyse, oral communication, 1998).
Workings: Placer gold was first discovered in the area in 1905. Prospecting initially occurred on Butte Creek (BD006) and expanded to nearby Caribou Creek (BD008), and Gold Run Creek (BD016) and associated tributaries. Live water and thawed ground presented the biggest obstacles during prospecting (Prindle, 1906). Initially, only a few holes were sunk to bedrock in gravel deposits ranging from 24 to 36 feet thick (Prindle, 1906; B 284). In 1909, Caribou Creek became a major producer in the Salcha-Tenderfoot area. Due to thawed ground, drift mining proved difficult. As a result, machinery for ditching and open-cut methods was installed (Ellsworth, 1910). Smith (1939; B 910-A) reports that drilling programs were carried out in 1937 to justify the installation of a dredge equipped with 6-cubic-foot buckets. Additional drilling and evaluation was continued in 1938 and 1939 (Smith, 1941). The dredge was installed in the 1940's and worked most of the stream length (Eberlein and others, 1977). The gold dredging operation was completed in 1952 (Saunders, 1954). The dredge is still located approximately 4.5 miles up the stream bed (M. Werdon, oral communication, 1998). Exploration to determine the lode source for the placer gold is currently (1998) being conducted in the Caribou Creek drainage (R. Van Nieuwenhuyse, oral communication, 1998).
Age: Quaternary
Production: Historically, Caribou Creek has been grouped with the mines and prospects of the Richardson area. From 1905 through 1921, production for the Richardson area was approximately 95,000 ounces of gold and 24,000 ounces of silver (Bundtzen and Reger, 1977). Since 1980, the district has produced approximately 10,000 additional ounces of gold from intermittent mining (Olson and others, 1985). Individual gold production for Caribou Creek has not been reported separately.

Commodities (Major) - Au; (Minor) - Bi, Sn, W
Development Status: Yes; medium
Deposit Model: Placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a)

References

Brooks, A.H., 1906, The mining industry in 1905: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 284, p. 4-9. Brooks, A.H., 1908, The mining industry in 1907: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 345-A, p. 30-53. Brooks, A.H., 1916, The Alaskan mining industry in 1915: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 642, 279 p. Brooks, A.H., 1923, The Alaska mining industry in 1921: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 739-A, p. 1-50. Cobb, E.H., 1972, Metallic mineral resources map of the Big Delta quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-388, 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000. Cobb, E.H., 1973, Placer deposits of Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1374, 213 p. Cobb, E.H., 1977, Placer deposit map of central Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 77-168-B, 64 p., 1 map, scale 1:1,000,000. Cobb, E.H., and Eberlein, G.D., 1980, Summaries of data on and lists of references to metallic and selected nonmetallic mineral deposits in the Big Delta and Tanacross quadrangles, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 80-1086, 77 p. Eberlein, G.D., Chapman, R.M., Foster, H.L., and Gassaway, J.S., 1977, Map and table describing known metalliferous and selected nonmetalliferous mineral deposits in central Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 77-168-D, 132 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:1,000,000. Ellsworth, C.E., 1910, Placer mining in the Yukon-Tanana region: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 442-F, p. 230-245. Ellsworth, C.E., and Parker, G.L., 1911, Placer mining in the Yukon-Tanana region: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 480-F, p. 173-217. Glover, A.E., 1950, Placer gold fineness: Alaska Territorial Department of Mines Miscellaneous Report 195-1, 38 p. Hasler, J.W., Miller, M.H., and Chapman, R.M., 1973, Bismuth, in Brobst, D.A., and Pratt, W.P., eds., United States mineral resources: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 820, p. 92-98. Joesting, H.R., 1942, Strategic mineral occurences in interior Alaska: Alaska Territorial Department of Mines Pamphlet 1, 46 p. Menzie, W.D., and Foster, H.L., 1979, Metalliferous and selected nonmetalliferous mineral resource potential in the Big Delta quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 78-529-D, 61 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000. Prindle, L.M., 1906, Yukon placer fields: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 284, p. 109-127. Prindle, L.M., 1913, A geologic reconnaissance of the Circle quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 538, 82 p. Saunders, R.H., 1954, Report on the examination of the Ricks prospect, Big Delta quadrangle, Alaska: Alaska Territorial Department of Mines Prospect Evaluation 59-1, 15 p. Smith, P.S., 1926, Mineral industry of Alaska in 1924: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 783-A, p. 1-30. Smith, P.S., 1939, Mineral industry of Alaska in 1937: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 910-A, p. 1-113. Smith, P.S., 1939, Mineral industry of Alaska in 1938: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 917-A, p. 1-113. Smith, P.S., 1941, Mineral industry of Alaska in 1939: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 926-A, p. 1-106. Weber, F.R., Foster, H.L., Keith, T.E.C., Dusel-Bacon, Cynthia, 1978, Preliminary geologic map of the Big Delta quadrangle, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 78-529-A, 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000.

Mineral List

Bismuth
Cassiterite
Gold
Scheelite


4 entries listed. 4 valid minerals.

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