The U.S. National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum Profile: John S. Livermore – Co-Discoverer of the Nevada Carlin Trend)

 The U.S. National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum – located in the famous 1880’s silver mining boomtown of Leadville, Colorado – is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development and processing of our nation’s natural resources.

John S. Livermore, an exploration geologist working for Newmont, provided the drive that led to the 1961 discovery of the Carlin Mine in northern Nevada. Carlin became the first large gold mine on what is now known as the Carlin Trend. John subsequently played an energizing role in exploration that has established northern Nevada as one of the world’s premier gold districts.

Carlin-type deposits are characterized by extremely fine-grained gold — gold that cannot be seen by the human eye nor concentrated by panning. Nevertheless, several small Carlin-type deposits were discovered in northern Nevada and worked as mines prior to the discovery of the Carlin orebody. John Livermore examined one such deposit at the Standard Mine near Lovelock, Nevada in the late 1940s and believed that other, possibly richer, fine-grained deposits remained to be found. Where to look was an open question.

Ralph Roberts, a field geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, provided the answer in a short paper, “Alignment of Mining Districts in North-Central Nevada,” which came to John Livermore’s attention in early 1961. Roberts pointed out that known deposits were associated with windows in the (coincidentally named) Roberts Mountain thrust fault — windows where older, over-riding rocks from the west had been eroded to expose younger rocks below. Ralph Roberts outlined his ideas at a meeting of the Eastern Nevada Geological Society. John Livermore attended the lecture. Afterwards, he and Roberts met and compared their thoughts on Nevada gold deposits.

Guided by Ralph Roberts’ ideas, John Livermore and Alan Coope, a fellow Newmont geologist who had a strong background in geochemistry, began an intensive search for “invisible gold.” Success came quickly. In October 1961, they filed the claims that became the Carlin Mine.

Shortly after the Carlin discovery, John became head of Newmont’s exploration effort in Canada. He remained with Newmont in Canada until 1970, when he returned to Nevada to form Cordex Exploration, with Peter Galli as his partner. By 1970, only one other mine, the Cortez operation, had been found and developed in northern Nevada. Exploration had all but stopped. John felt that a return to basic prospecting might lead to further economic discoveries.

John hired “Dee” DeLaMare, a mining engineer of long experience, to prospect on behalf of Cordex. Dee DeLaMare’s work led to the discovery of the Pinson, Preble, Sterling, and Dee mines and development of the Getchell Trend, second only to the Carlin Trend in Nevada gold production. These successes and higher gold prices fueled a Nevada exploration boom during the 1980s. New mines were found and developed. Deeper deposits continue to be found. Nevada gold production continues to expand.

John Livermore played a pivotal role in this history of successful mine finding and development.


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