The Silverthread Prospects occur in a remote, exposed, waterless part of Nevada, and are accessible only via motorcycles equipped for off-road conditions or a 4-wheel drive with elevated clearance and proper tires. The access roads generally follow drainages that were washed-out by last winter's record precipitation and subsequent melts. Not only to dissuade poachers, I'm issuing a serious warning to the most seasoned outdoorsmen: there is nothing at Silverthread worth the risks you would take trying to find the Prospects.
We made our first efforts to access the property in 2016, to establish ingress-egress routes, confirm the ground was open to staking, and to decide whether it was worth the effort to locate the ground. We made a second trip in 2017 to start to assess the potential of a very small-scale (<5 tons per day) gold-silver operation, and to stake the best ground. In the process, we found hundreds of Quartz crystals scattered about, some of which contained needle-like inclusions that looked a bit like black-widow spiders frozen in the center.
After dropping off our back-up vehicle several miles from the site (Photo 1), we used my 1998 Chevy Tahoe 2-door (a beast in the field) to access the site (Photo 2). I was accompanied by 2 seasoned Nevada Field Geologists, Scott Kleine (Great Basin Minerals) and Ken Coleman (Tinyminer's Minerals & Exploration), claim posts, and other regular equipment (e.g. 10s of gallons of water).
Photo 2, the best part of the access road system
Finally at the property, after a few misfires finding the proper access, and now time to scan the area (Photos 3 and 4), establish claim boundaries, and evaluate the very small, historic work already done on the various Prospects at Silverthread (Photo 5). After spending a few hours working through the small dump on one of the prospects, we found enough evidence to justify spending the rest of the day and night (Photo 6) evaluating the various small dumps, and to plan for staking the next morning.
Photo 1, message left in the window of our back-up
Photo 12 shows the general vein paragenesis, with earlier milky Quartz transitioning to clear Quartz crystals. In each included Quartz crystal, the sulfosalts +/- sulfides occur at a transitional zone between the earlier and later Quartz phases. This epitaxial occurrence distinguishes Silverthread from other similar occurrences elsewhere in Nevada and the Ukraine, and gives a small few of them the "floating spider" appearance.
As an added bonus, and completely unexpected based on all known geochemical sampling, a few small blebs of native Gold were exposed while sawing a Silverthread sample for our own analyses (Photo 13). In general, any presence of visible Gold has historically indicated predictable grades of 1+ ounces per ton.
The mineralized veins at Silverthread comprise generally milky Quartz stringers and pods that coalesce to a maximum of 20-cm-wide vein walls, with open-space growth Quartz crystals to at least 10-cm-long toward their centerlines (Photo 7). All of the different quartz phases carry visible metallic minerals, but the last phase is unique in its collector appeal, as it comprises clear quartz crystals with abundant inclusions of what may be several different sulfosalts and sulfides. Earlier, non-quantitative XRF analyses have indicated Jamesonite, Boulangerite, and Zinkenite as the possible inclusions, and Pyrite is clearly visible in a few samples. Of specific interest are silver "kicks" I saw for some samples.
From my memories of the earlier analyses, these veins contain locally elevated gold and silver values, and at least some of the silver occurs in the late-phase inclusions. Studies are currently underway at the University of Nevada - Reno to identify the different mineral phases, and their temperatures and (hopefully) depths of formation. We anticipate having basic identification finished shortly, and are currently cleaning and prepping the few dozen specimens we found on the surface during our activities. In the meantime, I've included a few photos of specimens as they were originally found (Photos 8 and 9) and after an initial round of basic cleaning (Photos 10 and 11).
NEW FIND!!! Quartz crystals included by Sulfosalts and Sulfides, with associated Gold, Silverthread Prospects, Churchill County, Nevada, USA (2016-17)
The only thing better than collecting on someone else's property is collecting on your own! As previously described, Apex is strongly focused on continuing to expand its US Show Schedule (we now participate in 5: Tucson, AZ; 2 in Denver, CO; and 2 in Santa Ana, CA), and is committed to developing our own projects.
I'm happy to report initial results from our fully owned Silverthread Prospects, a series of very small gold- and silver-bearing quartz veins in Churchill County, Nevada, USA. I've been aware of the area for years, but only recently had time to finally visit and then claim the project for its small-scale gold and silver potential, and for its mineralogical reality!
Photo 7, 1.5-cm-long wasp for scale
I could have driven a "low-rider" through this stretch, if we used a helicopter to get past earlier (and later) parts of the road.
I got quite the kick out of the note Ken left!!! We use these messages to let our Sheriffs, etc. know not to spend time or energy looking for a potential missing person.
Photo 14 shows the complicated mineralogy at Silverthread, including clusters of acicular lead +/- silver sulfosalts in gray to milky white Quartz, a grain of brassy Pyrite mostly oxidized to "glassy" Goethite adjacent to another possible Pyrite replaced mostly by earthy Hematite. The bluish green "crusts" partially filling the vug immediately left of center indicates the presence of a copper-bearing mineral. In similar deposits across Nevada, the blue generally correlates with oxidization of copper-bearing Tetrahedrite, which is also commonly the main silver-bearing mineral in these veins.
Pending the completion of studies mentioned above, we hope to have our first round of specimens available in the booth Apex shares with Great Basin Minerals at the Fall Denver Show at the Crowne Plaza. We plan on a larger scale excavation, but still using hand-tools only, this October.
Regardless of availability, we'll bring several specimens for discussion, at least...
Between now and then, happy hunting in your own expeditions!!!
COLLECTING STORIES II