My story begins on a terminal moraine, formed by a glacier’s retreat north approximately 22,000 years ago. The mass of till, which now forms an island protruding 118 miles into the Atlantic, is where my ancestors unpacked their belongings in 1639. For the last 378 years and 12 generations before me, my family has remained in the same village on the east end of Long Island, New York. I grew up on the water, baiting crabs with cracked mussels or chicken heads tied to string. A descendant of baymen and whalers, geology was not a discipline destined for a Bonacker.
But ever since I can recall, I’ve had a curiosity for the world we live on, and the beach was the perfect place to explore. “Where do you think this rock came from? Let’s see how deep we can dig here. Wow, that one looks neat! I wonder what this one is called?” I’m sure almost everyone reading this has asked similar questions at some point in their childhood.
These questions probably would have remained mere curiosities, however, circumstance forced my move to Colorado when I was 15 years old. Being new to this beautiful and foreign terrain, I decided there was no need to leave to continue my education. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I spent 4 summers as a geotech with Zonge swinging sledgehammers and dragging a variety of wires throughout the brush of the western U.S.
After graduation, I accepted an internship with Antero Resources, an oil and gas company based in Denver. I never had a profound interest in the business, but it was exactly what I needed after 8 months of living in my in-laws’ basement searching for my first job as a geologist. The Antero folk were good to me, and even allowed me to work half days so I could attend class after I decided to pursue my Master’s degree at the Colorado School of Mines.
Despite a $211/oz plummet in gold price the week my thesis proposal was submitted, I was lucky enough to get my research at the Marigold mine funded by Goldcorp. I moved my family to Nevada two weeks before Christmas in 2014, taking Jim Carver up on his offer to work at Marigold on a one-year contract as I finished the final edits on my thesis. That year was a difficult one, trying to prove my worth in the face of an uncertain future. When Jim came to me looking for a new idea, I said I wanted to drill through an old waste dump to test a structural feature identified by modeling the Valmy surface. The first hole returned 230’ of 0.019 opt. Then 180’ of 0.056 opt. Then 250’ of 0.072 opt. With about 8 weeks left on my contract, Jim approached me in the back room of the Martin after a GSN meeting and said something along the lines of, “Oh, did I ever tell you that you’ve got a full time job at Marigold?” No, no Jim, you forgot to mention that! I’m pretty sure he just likes to make the young bucks squirm...
That little structural feature we drilled in 2015 is now know as the HideOut deposit, and is my proudest professional accomplishment to date. I’ve been working at Marigold for 3 years now, and am thankful for the supportive, challenging, and undoubtedly creative exploration team we have there. Perhaps the luck that has gotten me to this point was not luck at all, but the cumulative product of confidence in a relative stranger.
Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
Company SSR Mining, Inc.
Position Senior Exploration Geologist