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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gold Occurrences in the Yukon Territory

The Tintina Gold Belt goes from northern British Columbia to Alaska for 1,200 kilometers.   USGS

You could say it all began with the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, but the history of gold in the Yukon goes back to the early traders and trappers who first found gold in the territory.  Much of this gold was in placer deposits. Placer is a Spanish word meaning a place where gold was dug from the earth mainly from sand & gravel deposits where the gold was concentrated.

The southwest corner of the Yukon is within the Tintina Gold Belt a great arc that extends from northern British Columbia throughout the Yukon and ends in the Pacific Ocean just above Anchorage, Alaska.  The Tintina is about 1,200 kilometers long and 200 kilometers wide.  Many of the earliest gold discoveries in the Yukon were placer deposits, and even today large quantities of placer gold are produced. During the Klondike Gold Rush many of the miners passed through the Yukon on their way to the gold fields of the Klondike in Alaska without ever sampling the area in the Yukon through which they passed.  If they had the gold rush might just as well been called the “Yukon Gold Rush.”

This part of North America escaped the extensive bouts of continental glaciation that covered much of the northern hemisphere for the past million years allowing the placer deposits that had formed for millions of years to remain in place; the placers were destroyed by the glaciers in other parts of northern north America.  When the glaciers came a good part of the Yukon was part of Baringia an arid land that joined Asia to North America when the sea level was four hundred feet lower then it is now.

For many years geologists and prospectors thought the gold in the Yukon was all placer gold eroded from formations of rock that no longer existed, but in recent years a number of hard rock mines have been put into production.  Many of these lode gold mines are associated with the mineral scheelite, an ore of tungsten in the form of calcium tungstate.  One hard rock mine is actually called the Scheelite Dome Mine (VSE:LAO) because of the amount of scheelite it produces.

The Yukon Territories are shown in red.

Most of the river systems in the Yukon produce placer gold, and lode gold can be found related to intrusions of magma into the country rock.  There are plenty of placer operations found in the territory, and an increasing awareness of the lode gold potential of the Yukon.

Gold Panning in Bonanza Creek in the Yukon.
Photo by Janothird

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