ELKO, Nev. (AP) — A special ceremony is planned in Nevada this spring to celebrate the life of the man who discovered microscopic bits of gold that led to development of one of the largest, richest gold deposits in the world more than 50 years ago
John Sealy Livermore died Feb. 7 in Reno at age 94. His 1961 discovery near Carlin, about 30 miles east of Elko, triggered a modern-day gold rush that's still flourishing across the Carlin Trend, stretching five miles wide and 40 miles long across northern Nevada.
Livermore was born in San Francisco in 1918 and educated in geology at Stanford University. He began his career with Newmont Mining Corp. in 1952 in a job that took him all over the world, including Peru, Turkey, Iran, Chile, Morocco and Algeria.
The special tribute is planned for 7 p.m. April 19 in the Davidson Math and Science Building at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Carlin Trend has produced one of the largest amounts of gold since the California Gold Rush or the Comstock Lode.
Newmont's mines on the Carlin Trend were the first in North America to produce 1 million ounces in a year, according to Newmont. Carlin became the foundation of the company's rise in the world gold market and by 2008 mines in the Carlin Trend had produced more than 70 million ounces of gold. The company estimates the ore body still yields about 4 million ounces a year.
"Mr. Livermore had unique and uncanny geologic insight that paid off successfully throughout his outstanding career," Newmont spokeswoman Mary Korpi told the Elko Daily Free Press. "John is a legend in the industry and we are all better off due to his contributions."
Livermore theorized for years that microscopic gold existed in Nevada. According to his family, Livermore found an article by U.S. Geological Survey field geologist Ralph Roberts in 1960 describing how low-grade ore may be in Nevada.
"In the fall of 1961, combining detailed geologic work, geochemical exploration, knowledge of the country and a few hunches, John and his Newmont colleague Alan Coope drilled near Carlin and staked several claims on Newmont's behalf," according to his family. "These claims became the highly profitable Carlin Mine and turned out to be just a portion of the much larger Carlin Trend."
In 2000, Livermore was named to the National Mining Hall of Fame. He also was a benefactor of Stanford and the University of Nevada's Mackay School of Earth Sciences.
"It's not overstating the case to say Livermore's microscopic-gold discovery changed the course of mining across the world," John Dobra, associate professor of natural resource economics at UNR, told the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Livermore left Newmont in 1970 and formed Cordex Exploration. The work at Cordex also led to the development of the Getchell Trend, second only to the Carlin Trend in Nevada gold production.
"Despite his California roots, John was happiest roaming the high sagebrush deserts of Nevada, rock hammer in hand," his nephew David Livermore told the Free Press. "Dust covered his field vehicle, and ore samples and topographic maps littered the back seat. Generous and unassuming, his stride was as long and open as the vast Great Basin country he loved, and he always had time for a friend."