Friday, September 21, 2018

Prospecting for Gold

Dang, everywhere I look - I find gold! And when I'm not finding gold - there there are all of those dadgum diamonds and gemstones - they seem to be everywhere.

Yes, its been some time since the discovery of lode gold at Donlin Creek - Snow Gulch in Alaska. And after all of these years, a mine is almost ready to start producing gold
Inscribed in stone, the 2009 Canadian
PDAC award for gold discovery.

In the 1980s, I was employed as an economic geologist for the Wyoming Geological Survey at the University of Wyoming, and I had dreams of spending time in Alaska and Australia searching for mineral deposits. No one else at the Survey had any interest in working outside (most liked the cozy, clean, little offices at the university, and only ventured outside to see football games). In all of the years I worked at the Survey, only two other full-time geologists liked to get their feet dirty - one moved to teach structural geology in Montana, and the other was literally harassed to death by a director of the Survey. 

For me, I love geology and love rocks and old mines. So, I developed many different projects for Wyoming, and continued to map and find new mineral deposits until that same director (a democrat) decided to come after me. By shear luck, I was near retirement age, otherwise I might also be pushing up daisies.

Anyway, prior to the democrat incident, I had free rein on what I could do, as long as I was productive. Thus, over the years, I published, I gave lectures and led many field trips, I mapped every mine I could get into, mapped all of the gold and base metal mining districts, lamproite fields and kimberlite districts, mapped the greenstone belts in the Wyoming craton (with the exception of Elmers Rock - that was mapped by my good friend, Paul Graff), and identified gemstones all over the state. Whenever I had annual leave, I often took leave from the Survey and consulted on various projects. So, I was able to get to Australia in 1986 for diamond research, and in 1988 and 1989, WestGold hired me to explore and map the Donlin Creek-Snow Gulch area in Alaska. WestGold, a subsidiary of Anglo-American and  DeBeers, had plenty of resources, and we found them a giant gold deposit - but unfortunately, the project was dropped and fell back into the hands of Calista Corporation. Even so, seven geologists were part of the discovery team for this giant gold deposit, and three were from Wyoming.

I'm now a members of nearly 2 dozen Halls-of-Fame; most are for
martial arts, but two are for geology.
I believe I have a nose for gold. I found hundreds of gold anomalies over the years. And I went searching for diamond deposits all over the US for a couple of different companies and put together an excellent diamond property with hundreds of diamond anomalies in the Colorado-Montana-Wyoming region for an Australian diamond company. I also found some excellent base metal projects for another Australian company, and I consulting for major mining companies and small family companies. I made money for some companies, but I didn't get a piece of the action, so, all I received was wages at the Survey, consulting fees, and a divorce - but at least I got a chance to climb into many old mines, map lots of rocks, sing songs at night with coyotes, and was the first person to see some new mineral deposits that no one had ever seen before. 

Today, I am working pretty much by myself. I keep finding great gold and base metal projects, and sometimes I wish I had access to a few hundred $million, as there are many excellent deposits out there just waiting for me and your bank account to put them in production.

Currently, I'm researching Arizona - and this is a land of many rich copper-silver-gold porphyry and base metal massive sulfide deposits along with dozens of hydrothermal gold and silver deposits. So, hire me, give me a decent wage, a truck, a gas card, and lots of additional spending money - and I'll find you a gold mine.

A recent consulting project, searching for an extension of the Copper King
Gold-Copper deposit in the Silver Crown district, Wyoming.
This 2-million ounce gold equivalent deposit was researched by me many
years ago while working at the Geological Survey. So, I recently got back for
another visit to see if I could find more gold on this property. And I believe I
did - but it will take some drilling as part of the mineralized porphyry was
down dropped to the east under alluvium. And, yes, I was elected to the
International Order of Ragged Ass Miners - one heck of an accomplishment!

Alumni Receive International Mineral Discovery Award

December 17, 2012
Alumnus Mark A. Bronston (BS , 1979), alumnus Paul J. Graff (PhD, 1978), and former Wyoming State Geologist Dan Hausel, recount how they were all members of the mineral (gold) exploration team that was awarded the Thayer Lindsley Award for an International Mineral Discovery by the Prospector’s and Developer’s Association of Canada in 2009. They discovered the Donlin Creek gold deposit in central Alaska in the late 1980’s working for WestGold, a subsidiary of Anglo-American and DeBeers.
The Donlin Creek deposit is currently the largest unexploited gold deposit in the world (37 million ounces proved and probable reserves). The mine is currently in the final stages of permitting.

The above press release from the University of Wyoming reports on the Donlin Creek gold discovery made in the late 1980s. Please note that I (Dan Hausel) was never the State Geologist - that is a political appointment made by the governor. My position at the Wyoming Geological Survey was that of Senior Economic Geologist (non-political).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Monster Gold Deposit!

On break for the July 4th celebration in Flat Alaska. Dr. Paul Graff stands on running board of the
Flat Alaska hotel limo adjacent to the Flat recreation seen in the photo to the left.
The Northern Miner (Feb 11-17, 2013) described Donlin Creek as a MONSTER GOLD DEPOSIT with more than 43 million ounces of gold drilled! And another 140 million ounces of gold resource! It is currently ranked as one of the 10 largest gold deposits found in history! The deposit is approximately 8 km in length, with much of the drilling focus in a 3 km area. This means that during mining and exploration of the remaining 5 km of the deposit will likely result in considerable expansion of the gold reserves.

To get some concept on how big this deposit is, try comparing it to one of the more extraordinary world-class gold deposits in history - the Homestake mine in South Dakota. The Homestake operated for 123 years, making it one of the longest lived gold mines in history. Production at the Homestake began in 1878 and ceased in 2001 after the mine produced 39.8 million ounces of gold. The Homestake was also one of the longest listed stocks on the NYSE in history! The Northern Miner also reported the Donlin Creek to be the largest undeveloped gold deposit in the world! 

For 7 geologists, this is a lifetime achievement and discovery - how many people in history can claim discovery of such a monster gold deposit? And I was one of those seven who made that discovery and was honored at the 2009 PDAC Convention in Toronto Canada.

Just how big is this monster gold deposit? Here are some statistics to think about. To help put this one, single, gold deposit in the proper perspective, let's look at the other gold states and their production.

The known gold reserves at Donlin Creek (excluding the potential resources):
  • contain 3 times more gold mined in the entire mining history of Arizona from 1774 to the present! And this doesn't even include the 140 million ounce resource estimate at Donlin Creek.
  • It has more gold than mined in all of Alaska from 1848 to the present!
  • Donlin Creek has more than a third of all gold mined in California
  • It contains as much as 86% of all gold mined in Colorado!
  • It has 49 times more gold mined in Georgia from 1839 to the present!
  • In contains twice as much gold that has been mined in Montana from 1852 to present!
  • It has 40 times more gold than was mined in North Carolina from 1799 to the present (1.2 million ounces)!
  • Donlin Creek has 25% as much gold that has been mined in Nevada from 1852 to the present (152 million ounces)! Combining the reserves and gold resources together at Donlin Creek indicates that Donlin Creek has at least 30 million ounces more than all of the gold mined in the entire history of Nevada!
  • It also has 4.6 times as much gold that was mined in Oregon (9.3 million ounces of historical production)!
  • It has more than twice the amount of gold mined in Utah (more than 17.7 million ounces)!
  • It contains 120 times more gold mined in all of Wyoming (385,000 ounces). And if we include the gold resource at Donlin Creek, this amounts to 468 times more gold than mined during the entire mining history of Wyoming!
  • Even the Klondike can't compare. All of the gold mined in the Klondike (18.3 million ounces) in the past only amounts to a little less than half as much gold drilled at Donlin Creek!!! If we again combined all of the Donlin Creek reserves and resources, this would amount to essentially 10 times more gold than was mined from the Kondike! And remember, once mining begins at Donlin Creek, more gold will be found!
So, am I humbled by this discovery? Nope!

I thank God that WestGold hired me and Paul Graff and Mark Bronson recommend me for my mapping skills. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to work with some incredible people for those two summers of 1988 and 1989, and I also got to drive them nuts with my pranks! And, you would think the operators of the mine would invite us to the grand opening and give each of us a stack of gold bars as a thank you.

Anyway, WestGold (Western Gold Exploration and Mining) also operated the Bima Dredge off Nome, Alaska and thus the company was a major company that could have built itself into a major mining company. But somewhere at the top, things were not to be.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Donlin Creek is one of the largest Potential Gold Developments in the World

The Northern Miner (2012, vol 98, no. 23) and NovaGold reported, "

Donlin is one of the largest potential gold developments in the world and NovaGold is moving ahead with the project alongside mega-miner Barrick Gold ...". 

NovaGold further stated, "The Donlin Gold project is an uniquely attractive asset which in terms of size, grade, exploration potential and jurisdictional safety, is quite possibly the most important project in the world today". 

Due to the extensive project, the mine is delayed until at least 2015. This giant gold deposit was discovered by seven geologists in 1988 and sampled and mapped in 1989. In alphabetical order: Mark Bronston, Richard Garnett, Paul Graff, W. Dan Hausel, Bruce Hickok, Toni Hinderman and Robert Retherford found this giant deposit. Three (Bronston, Graff, and Hausel) were either alumni or affiliated with the University of Wyoming. At the time, I (Hausel) was on leave from the Wyoming Geological Survey and working as a consultant for WestGold.

Wow, it was wonderful to be recognized by the University of Wyoming alumni association for our  discovery, even though I am not part of the alumni association. The Canadian PDAC also recognized our discover, so I was hoping the University of Utah alumni association and University of New Mexico alumni association might also take note of this discovery - but they didn't.

A forth member of the group, Richard Garnett, was part of the discovery group of a giant nickel deposit later in Canada. So, Richard was part of two incredible discoveries! Bruce Hickok (RIP), a descendant of Wild Bill Hickok, later was killed in an avalanche in Alaska. Wild Bruce was a great guy and the world misses him.

Dr. Graff stands with Mrs. Lyman at site of plane crash on Snow Gulch,
Donlin Creek, Alaska, 1989. All survived, and this is common in Alaska.
Gold has been one of the primary reasons Alaska has done so well economically, and with the development of the Donlin Creek  and possibly the Pebble porphyry copper deposit, Alaska stands to gain two world-class mines located on two world-class deposits. Each of these two deposits eclipse the total amount of gold mined from the famous Klondike which produced about 18.3 million troy ounces over its entire history. Now that's a lot of gold (Donlin has essentially 41 million ounces of identified gold in place, slightly more than the famous Homestake ore body), and will likely increase as mining progresses.

I was recently asked, what does it feel like to have been on the discovery of what is now considered to be 'possibly' the most important mining project in the world today? "I feel proud, but at the same time, I wish I could have a little of the gold we found." "Just a little - a few bars or so would do".

Everyone is talking about Donlin Creek in the mining industry today - a single deposit that will yield  a minimum of 120 times more gold than mined during the entire history of Wyoming.
"It is an honor to have been recognized for the discovery of this giant deposit, and I'm sure the other 6 team members from WestGold who were on the discovery of this giant deposit feel the same". 

"I look forward to NovaGold and Barrick Gold developing this mine. I just wish WestGold would have survived the 1980s and that we could all be there working and developing this property we discovered in 1988. We found this giant deposit, but unfortunately, WestGold fell apart before it could develop Donlin into a gold mine".

Back in 1988 and 1989 while working as a consultant for WestGold (while on leave from the Wyoming Geological Survey), I was part of the discovery team of this giant gold deposit. Dr. Graff with Richard Garnett and Mark Bronston hired me because of my ability to produce detailed geological maps as well as having a reputation for finding gold deposits. I had already found gold deposits in the Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt, the Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belt and the South Pass greenstone belt in Wyoming. Prior to my finding gold in these Wyoming greenstone belts and mapping them, these favorable geological terrains were poorly understood.

I made many friends and had a great time in Alaska, especially working with my good friend Paul Graff (even if he can't tell the difference between elk droppings and picroilmenite - a personal joke). I have the greatest respect for Paul as well as Richard and Mark.  And thanks to Richard, we were presented the 2009 Thayer Lindsley Award for an International Mineral Discovery by the largest mining association in the world - the PDAC in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Paul was unhappy - someone threw his awful - err I mean entertaining
Mills Brothers tape into the pond outside the tent. We tried to find the 
culprit, but no one would confess. Personally, I think it was a grizzly bear
What is a Mills Brothers tape? It is a way to make all other music sound 
much better.
So, how did we find this deposit? It was by using science, geological techniques along with detailed geological mapping, trenching, sampling and drilling.  Unfortunately, we did not receive an royalties for this discovery - only our consulting fees.

But I must say, I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I had a great time in Alaska, learned more geology in a state I previously had little experience, and had a wonderful time pulling pranks on my buddy - Paul. I would have liked to have some of the gold, but the experience for me, was worth more than all of the gold at Donlin Creek.

For me, making the discovery with my 6 colleagues was much more important than money. Sure, it would be nice to have some of the gold and go out and buy a Ferrari, but money only lasts until the grim reaper shows up at your door step. After that, what we have done with our lives may live on for a few more generations. So, hopefully, you will all be reading about me in some textbook when I go knocking at the Gates.

Mapping on the ridge overlooking Snow Gulch (part of the Donlin Creek gold discovery) in 1988. I was hired by WestGold because of my expertise in detailed geological mapping and finding mineral deposits.  I thank Paul for bringing me into this project and for all of the constant fun he provided in camp.
Some people think I have a problem with authority. My boss, Dr. Paul,
came into the field to tell me to get back to work. (photo by Paul Graff).

Driving to work along the Queen trench at the Donlin Creek gold
discovery, 1988

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DONLIN CREEK - one of the largest discovered in the 20th century

Donlin Creek international airport. This is where we lived
in 1988 and 1989 during the initial discovery of the Donlin
Creek gold deposit by members of WestGold.
The Donlin Creek gold deposit in southwestern Alaska is considered to be one of the largest, undeveloped, gold deposits on earth and contains as much gold as the Homestake mine. Resources are likely to expand with continued exploration of the deposit and mining. The gold resource is more than 41 million ounces. To develop this property, it is estimated that capitalization will be as much as $7 billion in that the property is in the middle of nowhere in the Kuskokwim Mountains in southwestern Alaska.

NovaGold reported proven and probable mineral reserves of 33.6 million ounces, measured and indicated mineral resources of 4.3 million ounces and inferred resources of 4.4 million ounces.

The company reports identified gold reserves include 7 million tonnes of proven ore at 2.46 g/t (grams per tonne) and 460.7 million tonnes of 2.23 g/t. The gold resource (exclusive of the reserves) includes 0.2 million tonnes of measured resources averaging 6.61 g/t, 39.6 million tonnes of indicated resources averaging 3.34 g/t and inferred resources at 58.4 million tonnes of 2.35 g/t containing 4.41 million ounces. The total resources are calculated at 4.29 million ounces and reserves at 33.59 million ounces.

Found this nifty dredge at Flat Alaska, but Dr. Paul wouldn't
let me keep it.

Co-pilot Hausel in hunt of other gold
deposits in the Donlin Creek area

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Donlin Creek Gold Deposit - Alaska, One of the Largest in the World

Dredge at Flat Alaska
In 1988, Dr. Paul Graff from Casper, Wyoming stopped by my office on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie. He was heading up a team to explore for gold in Alaska for WestGold (Western Gold Mining & Exploration) and they needed someone with experience in detailed mapping, economic geology and igneous petrology. I had started to build a reputation for detailed geological mapping & unravelling complex geological terrains while working at the Geological Survey of Wyoming at UW, and had already made dozens of discoveries including discovery of what would later turn out to be another major gold deposit - that of the Rattlesnake Hills gold district in central Wyoming, a deposit that is now being compared to the great Cripple Creek gold deposit in Colorado as well as hundreds of others including some major diamond and gemstone deposits (a chronology of many of these discoveries is listed on my GemHunter website).
To be honest, this was a super opportunity and I thank Paul for asking me as I had always wanted to see Alaska. What better way to see this state than to have WestGold pay my way with consulting fees and allow me to focus on rocks while we searched for gold. Besides, it was always an adventure to spend time in the field with Paul.

As mentioned in 'Sarah Palin's Alaska', this state is beautiful with vast resources and few people. It is such a wonderful & honest state that I voted for McCain in 2008 only because he picked an Alaskan as a running mate. McCain, I could care less about. But Palin, I knew she had to be honest (even for a politician)- she lived in Alaska where people had to work for a living unlike bureaucrats in DC. She had my vote! Besides she was much more attractive than Obama and McCain.

Mapping in the middle of nowhere with only my .44 magnum as a companion was my idea of peace. It was just like Wyoming, except much wetter, no roads anywhere, no cows, and a plethora of giant mosquitoes, such that if these large buggers were found in Wyoming, the Game and Fish Department would have opened a hunting season for them. Mosquitoes and noseeums would provide much entertainment in camp. For myself, they caused problems. Being a martial artist and exercise nut, I found they became a bit tiresome. I tried practicing kata after working all day and also used tree logs for curl bars and squats. As soon as I started to sweat or breathe heavily, it was a message for the 2 trillion mosquitoes within 100 square feet to start a feeding frenzy. But I continued to train while wearing bug spray - however, bears would periodically show some interest - so much so that we had to shoot one that was interested in trying to snack on one of our other geologists.

In the evenings, our team headed back to camp to spend time pulling pranks on one another and sleeping in our tents while bears came around demanding handouts. I spent my 1988 and 1989 summers mapping in the wilderness of Alaska, thanks to Paul and WestGold. What a great couple of summers - something I would not trade for any amount of money (well depends on how much).

In 1977, I had started on my goal to map most of the Wyoming's gold districts, greenstone belts, kimberlite and lamproite fields and historical gold and copper mines, and to search for diamonds and colored gemstones. By time I left the Survey in 2007 due to Gothic politics, I had mapped >1,000 square kilometers of Wyoming in areas that no one else wanted to work due to the complexities of resolving the structural elements, units, metamorphism and forms of alteration. Most terrains I ended up mapping could be liken to someone ramming an automobile into a light post at 100 mph. Things were bent, broken, wrapped around itself and parts were missing. Even though other geologists avoided these terrains, I loved working with these kinds of puzzles and even before I left the Survey, I was receiving consulting offers from international gold companies for mapping projects in similar terrains around the world. I had also built an unmatched reputation for finding new mineral deposits. While mapping the greenstone belts and mining districts, I also mapped several dozen underground mines that were left by miners as they search for other treasures. In some, I found old mine cars, lamps, many gold anomalies, and in one, I even found where someone had scribbled out the year in mud in the mine rib - 1915. So, I had considerable experience when I headed off to Alaska for two summers in 1988 and 1989.
Gold nuggets from Julian
Creek placer found in 1988.
Largest nugget is 1 ounce.
The mapping of old gold and copper mines and searching for gemstones was fascinating. I published more than a thousand books, articles, professional papers, maps and abstracts. Some of the books I wrote on finding gold deposits (Hausel, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2009; Hausel and Hausel, 2011) and some of the gold articles I published led a few prospectors to find treasures. I was the first person to enter several of these mines in decades. I also had considerable experience in volcanic terrains. When I was at the University of Utah and University of New Mexico, Tertiary and Quaternary volcanic rocks were my specialty. And while working at the Geological Survey of Wyoming, I also explored volcanic rocks associated with the giant porphyry copper-silver deposits in the Absaroka Mountains, gold at the Mineral Hill district and in 1981, I had discovered a few dozen gold anomalies in the Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belt. It is rare for a geologist to discover a new mineral deposit, but even rarer for one to find a whole new district!

The Rattlesnake Hills were missed by everyone else, but I found gold at several locations in the district and in different types of deposits (Hausel, 1994, 1995, 1996). I had predicted the district would yield large-tonnage, low-grade gold deposits due to presence of >40 Tertiary alkalic intrusives that erupted through the greenstone terrain and because of the brittle breccias I found adjacent to Sandy Mountain and Oshihan Hill and the stockworks I found south of Oshihan Hill (Hausel and Jones, 1982a, b). Years later, I also mapped the Leucite Hills volcanic field in southwestern Wyoming (Hausel, 2006). So, I took leave from the State and signed up for another consulting job and headed to Alaska in 1988. I had a great time and it worked out so well that I returned in 1989 - I love Alaska and I can understand Sarah Palin's love for this state! But little did we know, we were about to discover one of the largest gold deposits on earth. And we were optimistic - something that is a requirement (but lacking in most) for good exploration geologists!

According to the mining history of Alaska, placer gold had been found in the Kuskokwim River basin in the 1800s. Prospectors worked the George, upper Holitna, Tuluksak, Salmon and Kwethluk rivers; the New York, Bear, California, Marvel, Taylor, Forty-seven, Canyon, Crooked, Julian, Donlin and Flat creeks; and Murray, Snow, Ruby, Quartz, Queen and Lewis gulches. The Nixon Fork mine, 30 miles northeast of the McGrath village, had limited production in 1917 and again in the 1950s. The deposit was a high-grade gold-copper skarn with at least 131,500 ounces of gold (Bluemink, 2009). Eighty miles north of the Nixon Fork, placers in the Ruby district yielded sizable nuggets including the largest found in Alaska (294-ounce nugget from Swift Creek discovered in 1998). Nuggets were also found nearby at Long, Poorman and Moose creeks. The presence of large nuggets suggests a possibility of nearby hidden rich lodes.

Location map of Donlin Creek discovery in SW Alaska
Seventy-five to 100 miles southwest of McGrath, gold placers at Snow Gulch and Julian Creek were found in the Georgetown district - these would later become known as the Donlin Creek deposit. Gold is also found in nearby Omega, Lewis, Quartz, Ruby and Queen Gulch. This region attracted the interest of geologists because of pristine the gold flakes found in the streams by prospectors and the fragile gold nuggets which suggested a nearby source. As a result, WestGold began exploration in this region in 1988 which led to discovery of a large, disseminated, gold deposit with associated with anatomizing granodiorite to rhyolitic dikes intruded into graywacke (Hausel, 1988, 1989a). Drilling over several years identified proven and probable resources of 29.5 million ounces with an additional indicated resource of 10 million ounces. This was an Elephant (so to speak in the exploration business)! Donlin Creek has a gold resource similar in value to the legendary Homestake mine in South Dakota which produced 41 million ounces over a century of mining. Donlin Creek also hosts as much gold as has been mined in all of Alaska from 1869 to 2007!

Three geologists of WestGold's Donlin Creek - Snow Gulch
discovery team pose with drillers and samplers at Snow Gulch
in 1989. Rob Rutherford (standing left), Paul Graff (standing
right) and W. Dan Hausel (sitting right). The house was our
country club for the summer.
The Northern Miner reported Donlin Creek to be one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world and the largest undeveloped gold deposit in North America. Based on 2009 plans, the property could become one of the largest gold mines in the world. Mine permit applications were submitted in 2009 and mine construction proposed by 2012.

The deposit consists of felsic sills and dikes that host gold in association with sulfides, quartz veinlets and breccias. Higher gold values are associated with arsenopyrite, stibnite and quartz in dikes and sills that intrude a thick sequence (>5000 feet) of folded Cretaceous graywacke, sandstone and shale. Plans are for a mine to yield 1.5 million oz/yr from ore averaging 0.07 to 0.08 opt Au.

Flying into Flat, Alaska for July 4th
celebration, 1988.
Other interesting anomalies in this region include gold at Julian Creek about 25 miles to the northeast with nearby felsic dikes in a similar setting as Donlin Creek, and mercury-gold anomalies at DeCourcy, about 8 miles west and placer gold at Flat Creek about 25 miles to the north-northeast are also of interest (Hausel, 1989b). While recently watching Gold Rush, Alaska on the discovery channel, I can't help but laugh at the antics of these wannabee miners.

Everything they do is exactly backwards of how gold prospecting and mining is done. It is very unfortunate that the Discovery Channel picked such inept miners to educate the public on gold mining and prospecting. There are lots of good gold prospects in Alaska, but one does not go out and buy a half-million dollars in mining equipment before these deposits are sampled.

At Donlin Creek, we found gold spread over a few miles (visit Donlin Creek, Alaska on Google Earth). Donlin Creek consists of northeast-trending mineralized dikes and sills in a region 1.2 miles wide and more than 5 miles long (T. 23 N., R. 49 W). The lode is Alaska's largest gold deposit which runs along a ridge east of Crooked Creek at the heads of Lewis, Queen, Ruby, and Snow Gulches. The deposit consists of calcareous shale and graywacke of the Upper Cretaceous, Kuskokwim Group which strike west-northwest and dip 10-50 degrees SW and are cut by a swarm of Tertiary age rhyodacite to granite-porphyry sills and dikes that trend northeast (Hausel, 1988, 1989). Late northeast and northwest-striking, high-angle faults offset the mineralized zones (Miller and Bundtzen, 1994; Vaillancourt, 2002; St. George, 2004).

The deposit is developed in felsic dikes and sills, with lesser amounts of mineralization in graywacke, particularly where north-northeast trending fault zones intersect mineralized felsic intrusions 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 sedimentary rocks (Hausel, 1989b). The veins and veinlets consist of quartz and carbonate gangue, with gold and several ore minerals. The gold occurs mainly in arsenopyrite and stibnite (Hausel, 1989b). In addition minor chalcopyrite, cinnabar, cassiterite, covellite, galena, marcasite, molybdenite, native arsenic, pyrrhotite, sphalerite, scheelite occur in minor amounts.

Dr. Paul Graff admires old hydraulic 'Giant' at Fullerton
Alaska in 1988.
The gangue and alteration minerals include crystalline and chalcedonic quartz, carbonate minerals and dickite. Garnet and high tin in some granite porphyry dikes indicate that at least part of the intrusive suite is peraluminous. Based on crosscutting relationships, altered carbonated mafic dikes initially intruded followed by intermediate and felsic dike intrusion. Other than clay, weak sericitic alteration and disseminated sulfides, there is little evidence of thermal alteration of the host rocks (Bundtzen and Miller, 1997). Miller and Bundtzen (1994) report that the felsic dikes vary from 65 to 71 Ma. Gold is disseminated in sulfides, sulfide veins, and in quartz-carbonate-sulfide veining in sericitically-altered igneous rocks (Hausel, 1989b, Szumigala and others, 2000). There is a positive correlation between high fracture density, alteration, and the amount of gold.

Ore shoots are developed in dilatant zones along normal faults where faults steepen in felsic intrusions and graywacke. Alteration assemblages include sericite, illite, kaolinite. dickite, carbonate and pyrite (Hausel, 1989b, Szumigala and others, 2000). Current drilled resources places this deposit in the top 30 gold deposits known in the world (Novagold Press release, January 28, 2002). Its as large as the Homestake deposit, where more than 41 million ounces of gold were mined over a 100 year period.

Rehealed breccia of Kuskokwim graywacke adjacent to mineralized dikes.

Unusual nugget of gold. A rough gold nugget projects from
rounded granitic stream-worn pebble. Paul Graff considered
this type of gold may have grown in place in an organic rich
environment. According to placer miner Spencer Lyman,
several nuggets like this were found over the years in the
Kuskokwim Mountains.  Other prospectors reported an unusual
regeneration of some gold placers that had all ready been mined.

After finding such a major gold deposit, some people think our group of geologists became rich. Nope! Due to complexities of ownership and our company going defunct, the geologists on this project received 2 million mosquito bites, consulting fees and lots of fond memories.

But, in 2009, a group of seven geologists were awarded one of the greatest honors in economic geology - the Thayer Lindsley Award for a Major International Gold Discovery for our work at Donlin Creek. This honor now hangs in my dojo in Mesa, Arizona.

The Award presented at the PDAC in Toronto to recognize the accomplishments of Mark Bronston, Richard Garnett, Paul Graff, W. Dan Hausel, Bruce Hickok (RIP), Toni Hinderman (RIP) and Robert Retherford. At today's gold prices, this 40 million ounce deposit is worth about $70 billion. And like any world-class property, once it is finally put into operation, more gold resources will be found and identified.

I dedicate this blog to one of our colleagues: Bruce Hickok, who was killed in an avalanche in Alaska. We will all miss Bruce. 

I would also like to remember another geologist and friend - Ray E. Harris who passed away in Laramie apparently due to stress caused by activities at the Wyoming Geological Survey. From 2004 to 2006 the WGS had a staff of 26 people. Yet the agency suffered an 8% death rate in geologists, more than 20% heart related problems related to stress by the staff, 45% staff resignations, retirement, and transfer rate, and a 40% resignation rate of advisory board members. This was never investigated by the State of Wyoming. Cover up?