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Donlin Gold project (Donlin Creek prospect), Iditarod District, Bethel Census Area, Alaska, USAi
Regional Level Types
Donlin Gold project (Donlin Creek prospect)Project
Iditarod DistrictMining District
Bethel Census AreaCensus Area
AlaskaState
USACountry

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Key
Lock Map
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
62° 3' 15'' North , 158° 11' 2'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
Owned/operated by:
Locality type:
Köppen climate type:
Nearest Settlements:
PlacePopulationDistance
Crooked Creek105 (2016)20.8km


If one restores the 54 miles of right lateral offset along the Iditarod-Nixon Fork fault, the Donlin Creek dike and sill swarm correlates with the Ganes-Yankee dike and sill swarm and nearby deposits (ID024, ID028, ID035, and ID039) in the Ganes Creek-Yankee Creek areas in the Innoko district in the northern Iditarod Quadrangle (Miller and Bundtzen, 1988).

The Donlin Creek lode is a northeast-trending area about 1.2 miles wide and 5 miles long on the ridge east of Crooked Creek. The coordinates are at an area that is being considered as an open pit. That location is at an elevation of about 1,100 feet, about 1.4 mile east-southeast of the mouth of Queen Gulch and about 0.2 mile west of the center of section 25, T. 23 N., R. 49 W., of the Seward Meridian. Note: This deposit is distinct from the several placers in the vicinity of Crooked Creek and Donlin Creek and over the years, 'Donlin Creek' has been used to refer to both one or more of these placers and this lode.

Geology: The Donlin Creek lode is Alaska's largest gold deposit, with more than 22.9 million ounces of gold in measured, indicated, and inferred resources (Novagold press release, January 28, 2002; Placer Dome Exploration press release, May 4, 2003).

The deposit is in an elongate, northeast-trending mineralized area about 1.2 mile wide and 3 miles long that runs along the ridge east of Crooked Creek at the heads of Lewis, Queen, Ruby, and Snow Gulches. As currently developed, the main area of mineralization is about 6,500 feet long, trends east-west, and is about 3,200 feet wide. Individual centers of mineralization have been designated 'South Lewis', 'North Lewis', 'Vortex', '400', 'Richelieu', and 'Acma'.

The rocks in the area are calcareous shale and graywacke of the Upper Cretaceous, Kuskokwim Group. These detrital rocks strike west-northwest and dip 10-50 SW; they are cut by dikes and sills of several ages. Mafic sills that are extensively altered to quartz-carbonate rock are cut by at least four subtypes of younger rhyodacite to granite-porphyry sills and dikes. A major northeast-striking dike swarm cuts west-northwest-striking sills and dikes on the ridge crest between Lewis and American Creeks. Late northeast and northwest-striking, high-angle faults appear to offset the mineralized zones (Miller and Bundtzen, 1994; Vaillancourt, 2002; St. George, 2004).

The deposit is best developed in the felsic dikes and sills, and lesser so in the graywacke, particularly where north-northeast striking fault zones intersect the favorable felsic intrusion and graywacke host rocks. The ore minerals are primarily gold-bearing arsenopyrite and arsenian pyrite which are disseminated in the felsic igneous rocks and in veins and networks of veinlets in the igneous and and sedimentary rocks.

The veins and veinlets consist of quartz and carbonate gangue, with gold and several ore minerals. The gold occurs mainly in the lattice of the arsenopyrite (St. George, 2003). In addition to the arsenopyrite, pyrite, and stibnite which are the dominant ore minerals, minor chalcopyrite, cinnabar, cassiterite, covellite, galena, marcasite, molybdenite, native arsenic, pyrrhotite, sphalerite, scheelite, and the alteration products of sulfides also occur. The gangue and alteration minerals include crystalline and chalcedonic quartz, carbonate minerals, and dickite. The garnet and high tin values in some of the granite porphyry dikes indicate that at least part of the intrusive suite is peraluminous.

Based on crosscutting relationships, the altered mafic dikes were intruded first, followed by the intermediate and felsic dikes. Despite the intensity of intrusive activity, there is little thermal alteration of host rocks, i.e., the development of hornfels, as compared to similar-sized intrusive centers in other areas of the Kuskokwim mineral belt (Bundtzen and Miller, 1997). Miller and Bundtzen (1994) report that the felsic dikes vary in age from 65.1 to 70.9 Ma. More recent age dating summarized in Szumigala, Dodd, and Arribas (2000) and Ebert and others (2000) give similar radiometric ages. According to Szumigala, Dodd, and Arribas (2000), the gold mineralization is in disseminated sulfides, sulfide veins, and in quartz-carbonate-sulfide veining in sericitically-altered igneous rocks. There is a positive correlation between high fracture density, alteration, and the amount of gold. Ore shoots at Donlin Creek are developed in dilatant zones along normal faults where the faults steepened in felsic intrusions and graywacke. Fluid inclusion, and ore and alteration mineral assemblage data indicate that pervasive sericitization developed under a lower mesothermal regime, but some of the ore probably was epithermal (Bundtzen and Miller, 1997; Szumigala, Dodd, and Arribas, 2000).

The occurrence of gold in the intrusive rocks at the Donlin Creek deposit was recognized as early as 1912 (Maddren, 1915). There was increasing more thorough work in the 1980's when a joint effort by Alaska Earth Sciences and the Calista Corporation suggested that the Donlin Creek deposit could be an important bulk-mineable gold deposit. Trenching and drilling done by Westgold from 1988 to 1990 identified seven ore bodies that contained about 392,090 ounces of gold (Retherford and McAtee, 1994). Placer Dome US conducted exploration from 1995 to 2000 and announced that the Donlin Creek deposit contained about 11 million ounces of gold (Swainbank and others, 2002). Placer Dome's first exploration phase at the Donlin Creek deposit ended in 2000. Later in 2000, Novagold Resources Inc. signed agreements with Placer Dome Exploration and Calista Corporation, who owns the deposit, to acquire a 70 percent interest in the Donlin Creek deposit by spending $10 million to explore the deposit over a ten year period (Swainbank and others, 2002). Novagold fulfilled the exploration commitment during 2001 and 2002. In the spring of 2003, after reviewing the results of the two-year Novagold exploration program, Placer Dome Exploration reacquired a majority interest in the project by agreeing to spend $30 million on further exploration and to complete a feasibility study of the project (February, 2003 Press release, Novagold Resources, Inc.). Exploration at the Donlin Creek gold deposit is in progress as of March 2004.

By the end of 2001, the deposit had been explored by about 287,000 feet of diamond core drilling in 361 holes, about 43,700 feet of reverse-circulation drilling in 117 hole, and 7,000 feet of trenches (Novagold Press release, January 28, 2002). The total measured and indicated reserves are 115 million tons of material with 0.1 ounces of gold per ton, or about 10.0 million ounces of gold. The total inferred reserves and resources are 142 tons of material with 0.1 ounce of gold per ton, or about 12.9 million ounces of gold.

Workings: The occurrence of gold in the intrusive rocks at the Donlin Creek deposit were recognized as early as 1912 (Maddren, 1915).

Cady and others (1955) reported that lode gold occurrences exposed between Queen and Snow Gulches contained stibnite and up to a half ounce of gold per ton During the 1950s, Robert F. Lyman trenched the Snow Gulch stibnite-gold prospect.

In 1974, Resource Associates of Alaska, Inc. on behalf of the Calista Corporation, carried out surface investigations including some trenching in the Donlin Creek dike swarm. This firm detected high gold values in a soil survey and recommended that an induced polarization survey and a drill program be conducted on the property (Muntzert and others, 1975). In 1984, Bundtzen and Miller mapped and sampled trenches at Snow Gulch; the samples yielded up to 0.35 ounce of gold per ton, 7,000 ppm arsenic, 70 ppm tin, and several percent antimony (Bundtzen and Miller, 1997).

In the mid-1980s, Rob Retherford, Bruce Hickok, Tom Turner, and Toni Hinderman of Alaska Earth Sciences, Inc. and Calista Corporation investigated the pervasive presence of gold-rich arsenopyrite at Snow Gulch and other areas, and suggested that the Donlin Creek dike swarm could be an important bulk-mineable gold deposit.

Trenching and drilling done by Westgold from 1988 to 1990 indicated that seven ore bodies in the Donlin intrusive swarm contained 4.26 million tons of material with a grade of 0.09 ounces of gold per ton, or about 392,090 ounces of gold (Retherford and McAtee, 1994). Placer Dome US conducted exploration from 1995 to 2000 and announced that the Donlin Creek deposit contained about 11 million ounces of gold (Swainbank and others, 2002). Placer Dome's first phase of exploration phase at the Donlin Creek deposit ended in 2000.

Later in 2000, Novagold Resources Inc. signed agreements with Placer Dome Exploration and Calista Corporation, who owns the deposit, to acquire a 70 percent interest in the Donlin Creek deposit by spending $10 million in exploration over a ten year period (Swainbank and others, 2002).

Novagold fulfilled the exploration commitment during 2001 and 2002. In the spring of 2003, after reviewing the results of the two-year Novagold exploration program, Placer Dome Exploration reacquired a majority interest in the project by agreeing to spend $30 million on further exploration and complete a feasibility study of the project (February, 2003 Press release, Novagold Resources, Inc.). Exploration at the Donlin Creek gold deposit is in progress as of March 2004.

Age: The felsic intrusions at Donlin Creek have 40K/40Ar ages of from 65.1 to 70.9 Ma (Miller and Bundtzen, 1994).

Alteration: The alteration is marked by sericite, illite, kaolinite. dickite, carbonate minerals, and pyrite (Szumigala, Dodd, and Arribas, 2000).

Reserves: By the end of 2001, the total measured and indicated reserves were 115 million tons of material with 0.1 ounces of gold per ton, or about 10.0 million ounces of gold. The total inferred reserves and resources are 142 tons of material with 0.1 ounce of gold per ton, or about 12.9 million ounces of gold. The total of 22.9 million ounces of gold rank this in the top 30 gold deposits known in the world (Novagold Press release, January 28, 2002). The bulk of the reserve is in the Lewis, 400, Acma, and Richelieu ore bodies. This total does not include reserve estimates for the Snow and Far Side deposits.

Based on earlier work by Westgold, the Snow deposit contains 44,000 ounces of gold with an average grade of 0.10 ounce of gold per ton (Retherford and others, 1989). The Far Side deposit contains 38,400 ounces of gold of unstated grade.

Commodities (Major) - Au; (Minor) - Ag, As, Be, Cd, Cu, Hg, Mo, Pb, Sb, Sn, W, Z

Deposit Model: Porphyry gold-copper deposit; (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 20c)

Regions containing this locality

North America PlateTectonic Plate

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Commodity List

This is a list of exploitable or exploited mineral commodities recorded at this locality.


Mineral List


16 valid minerals.

Detailed Mineral List:

Arsenic
Formula: As
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Arsenopyrite
Formula: FeAsS
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Cassiterite
Formula: SnO2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Chalcopyrite
Formula: CuFeS2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Cinnabar
Formula: HgS
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Covellite
Formula: CuS
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Galena
Formula: PbS
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
'Garnet Group'
Formula: X3Z2(SiO4)3
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Marcasite
Formula: FeS2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Molybdenite
Formula: MoS2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Pyrite
Formula: FeS2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Pyrite var: Arsenian Pyrite
Formula: FeS2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Pyrrhotite
Formula: Fe7S8
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Quartz
Formula: SiO2
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Realgar
Formula: As4S4
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Scheelite
Formula: Ca(WO4)
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Sphalerite
Formula: ZnS
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.
Stibnite
Formula: Sb2S3
Reference: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1225.

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 1 - Elements
Arsenic1.CA.05As
Group 2 - Sulphides and Sulfosalts
Arsenopyrite2.EB.20FeAsS
Chalcopyrite2.CB.10aCuFeS2
Cinnabar2.CD.15aHgS
Covellite2.CA.05aCuS
Galena2.CD.10PbS
Marcasite2.EB.10aFeS2
Molybdenite2.EA.30MoS2
Pyrite2.EB.05aFeS2
var: Arsenian Pyrite2.EB.05aFeS2
Pyrrhotite2.CC.10Fe7S8
Realgar2.FA.15aAs4S4
Sphalerite2.CB.05aZnS
Stibnite2.DB.05Sb2S3
Group 4 - Oxides and Hydroxides
Cassiterite4.DB.05SnO2
Quartz4.DA.05SiO2
Group 7 - Sulphates, Chromates, Molybdates and Tungstates
Scheelite7.GA.05Ca(WO4)
Unclassified Minerals, Rocks, etc.
'Garnet Group'-X3Z2(SiO4)3

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Group 1 - NATIVE ELEMENTS AND ALLOYS
Semi-metals and non-metals
Arsenic1.3.1.1As
Group 2 - SULFIDES
AmXp, with m:p = 1:1
Cinnabar2.8.14.1HgS
Covellite2.8.12.1CuS
Galena2.8.1.1PbS
Pyrrhotite2.8.10.1Fe7S8
Realgar2.8.21.1As4S4
Sphalerite2.8.2.1ZnS
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:1
Chalcopyrite2.9.1.1CuFeS2
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 2:3
Stibnite2.11.2.1Sb2S3
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:2
Arsenopyrite2.12.4.1FeAsS
Marcasite2.12.2.1FeS2
Molybdenite2.12.10.1MoS2
Pyrite2.12.1.1FeS2
Group 4 - SIMPLE OXIDES
AX2
Cassiterite4.4.1.5SnO2
Group 48 - ANHYDROUS MOLYBDATES AND TUNGSTATES
AXO4
Scheelite48.1.2.1Ca(WO4)
Group 75 - TECTOSILICATES Si Tetrahedral Frameworks
Si Tetrahedral Frameworks - SiO2 with [4] coordinated Si
Quartz75.1.3.1SiO2
Unclassified Minerals, Mixtures, etc.
'Garnet Group'-X3Z2(SiO4)3
Pyrite
var: Arsenian Pyrite
-FeS2

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

Cretaceous - Tertiary
66 Ma



ID: 1570536
Dikes and subvolcanic rocks

Age: Paleocene (66 Ma)

Description: Porphyritic to fine-grained phaneritic dikes, sills, and plugs of granitic composition.

Lithology: Igneous

Reference: Wilson, F.H., Hults, C.P., Mull, C.G, and Karl, S.M. (compilers). Geologic map of Alaska. doi: 10.3133/sim3340. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3340, pamphlet 196. [21]

Late Cretaceous
66 - 100.5 Ma



ID: 634011
Sedimentary; Slope and deep water

Age: Late Cretaceous (66 - 100.5 Ma)

Description: Interior western Alaska, Southwest Basin

Comments: Sedimentary basin; Wilson & Hults, unpublished compilation, 2007-08

Lithology: Shale, chert, iron-formation, greywacke, turbidite, argillaceous limestone, matrix-supported conglomerate or metamorphosed equivalent

Reference: J.C. Harrison, M.R. St-Onge, O.V. Petrov, S.I. Strelnikov, B.G. Lopatin, F.H. Wilson, S. Tella, D. Paul, T. Lynds, S.P. Shokalsky, C.K. Hults, S. Bergman, H.F. Jepsen, and A. Solli. Geological map of the Arctic. doi:10.4095/287868. Geological Survey of Canada Map 2159A. [2]

Cretaceous
66 - 145 Ma



ID: 3186131
Mesozoic sedimentary rocks

Age: Cretaceous (66 - 145 Ma)

Lithology: Sedimentary rocks

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

References

Sort by

Year (asc) Year (desc) Author (A-Z) Author (Z-A)
Maddren, A.G. (1915), Gold placers of the lower Kuskokwim, with a note on copper in the Russian Mountains: USGS Bulletin 622-H, p. 292-360.
Cady, W.M., Wallace, R.E., Hoare, J.M., and Webber, E.J. (1955), The central Kuskokwim region, Alaska: USGS Professional Paper 268, 132 p.
Muntzert, J., Haverslew, R.E., Hirst, P.E., Knaebel, J., and Heiner, L.E. (1975), Land and mineral resource evaluation for Calista Corporation-final report of exploration activities during 1974: Fairbanks, Alaska, Resource Associates of Alaska, Inc. unpublished report, p. 20-22.
Retherford, R.M., Graff, P., and Hinderman, Toni (1989), Donlin Creek project (Alaska) 1989 exploration program final report: Anchorage, Alaska, unpublished Western Gold Exploration and Mining Company Ltd. report, 186 p.
Szumigala, D.J. (1993), Gold mineralization related to Cretaceous-Tertiary magmatism in the Kuskokwim Mountains of west-central and southwestern Alaska: Los Angeles, University of California Ph.D. dissertation, 300 p.
Miller, M.L., and Bundtzen, T.K. (1994), Generalized geologic map of the Iditarod quadrangle, Alaska showing potassium-argon, major oxide, trace element, fossil, paleocurrent, and archeological sample localities: USGS Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-2219-A, 48 pages; 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000.
Retherford, R.M., and McAtee (1994), Donlin Creek property, southwestern Alaska: Anchorage, Alaska, Calista Corporation, Land Department, unpublished company report, 27 p. (June, 1994).
Szumigala, D.J. (1996), Gold mineralization related to Cretaceous-Tertiary magmatism in west-central Alaska-A geochemical model and prospecting guide for the Kuskokwim region: Geological Society of Nevada Symposium Proceedings: 1317-1340.
Bundtzen, T.K., and Miller, M.L. (1997), Precious metals associated with Late Cretaceous-early Tertiary igneous rocks of southwestern Alaska, in Goldfarb, R.J., and Miller, L.D., editors, Mineral Deposits of Alaska: Economic Geology Monograph 9: 242-286.
Gray, J.E., Gent, C.A., Snee, L.W., and Wilson, F.H. (1997), Epithermal mercury-antimony and gold-bearing vein lodes of southwest Alaska, in Goldfarb, R.J., and Miller, L.D., editors, Mineral Deposits of Alaska: Economic Geology Monograph 9, p. 287-305.
McCoy, D.T., Newberry, R.J., Layer, P.W., DiMarchi, J.J., Bakke, A.A., Masterman, J.S., and Minehane, D.L. (1997), Plutonic-Related Gold Deposits of Interior Alaska, in, Goldfarb, R.J., and Miller, L.D., editors, Mineral Deposits of Alaska: Economic Geology Monograph 9: 191-241.
McCoy, D.T., Dodd, S.P., Arribas, A. Jr., Miller, M.L., Goldfarb, R.J., and Szumigala, D.J. (1999), Geology and geochemistry of the Donlin Creek gold deposit, southwest Alaska: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs: 31(6): A78.
Ebert, S., Miller, L.D., Petsel, S., Dodd, S., and Kowalczyk (2000), Geology, mineralization, and exploration at the Donlin Creek project, southwestern Alaska: British Columbia and Yukon Chamber of Mines Special Volume 2, p. 99-114.
Szumigala, D.J., Dodd, S.P., and Arribas, A. Jr. (2000), Geology and gold mineralization at the Donlin Creek prospects, southwestern Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Professional Report 119: 91-115.
Bundtzen, T.K., and Flanigan, Brian (2002), Anatomy of giants-The Tintina gold province, Alaska Yukon Region, North America, in Anatomy of giants short course: Society of Economic Geologists Global Exploration 2002--Integrated Methods for Discovery, Denver, Colorado, April 11-12, 2002 (CD ROM).
Hart, C.J.R., McCoy, D.T., Goldfarb, R.J., Smith, M., Roberts, P., Hulstein, R., Bakke, A.A., and Bundtzen, T.K. (2002), Geology, exploration, and discovery in the Tintina gold province, Alaska and Yukon, in Integrated methods for discovery: Global exploration in 21st Century: Society of Economic Geologists Special Publication 9, p.241-274.
Veillancourt, P. (2002), Novagold Resources, Inc.: Elephant Country in Alaska: Union Securities Research Report, 27 p.
St. George, P. (2003), Donlin Creek--Alaska's development of one of the world's largest gold deposits (abstract): 2003 Cordilleran Exploration Round-up, Yukon and British Columbia Chamber of Mines, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, p 50.
Miller, M.L., Bundtzen, T.K., and Gray, J.E. (2005), Mineral resource assessment of the Iditarod quadrangle, west-central Alaska: USGS Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-2219-B, scale 1:250,000, pamphlet.


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