The Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness covers about 60 km' (23 mi2) of steep forested ridges in the western part of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The area is just south of the Little Tennessee River and includes all the area drained by Slickrock and Little Santeetlah Creeks. No metallic mineral resources have been identified in the wilderness area or in the immediate surrounding country. The Fontana and Hazel Creek copper mines are 16-20 km (10-12.5 mi) east-northeast, and the Ducktown copper mines are 50 km (31 mi) to the southwest. The Coker Creek gold district is 30 km (18.5 mi) to the southwest. Prospecting permits have been issued or applied for on only five tracts within the study area in the last 25 years; none of these resulted in any discovery of mineralized ground. Most of the prospecting seems to have been done because of the common presence of traces of iron sulfides in the country rock. Both pyrite and pyrrhotite are accessory minerals throughout the stratigraphic sequence and are probably recrystallized from authigenic or diagenetic sulfide minerals. Only traces of base metals and gold are associated with the iron sulfides. The many quartz veins are metamorphic segregations of nearly pure silica, and only a few contain traces of copper, lead, zinc, or gold. A reconnaissance geochemical survey including samples of stream sediments, soil, forest litter, and rock indicates no obvious anomalous values for some 30 elements.
The only apparent mineral resources in the wilderness area are minor deposits of sand and gravel and abundant rock suitable for crushing. Deposits of both, however, are readily available and more accessible in the surrounding area. Includes three plates. By F.G. Lesure, E.R. Force, and J.F. Windolph, USGS and J.J. Hill, US Bureau of Mines, 1977. 89 pages.