The Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation in southeastern Utah is characterized by fluvial sandstone in distinct paleochannels. The deposits are part of a large delta-fan with an apex in the vicinity of the western Grand Canyon. The exhumed channel fills, which excellently expose directional sedimentary structures, were deposited by streams of slight to moderate sinuosity, with occasional sharp bends. Such curves were loci of more conspicuous entrapment and burial of carbonaceous material. Later these areas became highly reducing environments where uranium ores precipitated from ground water percolating through permeable interconnecting channels. Major uranium deposits are more likely to occur in areas where such conditions existed.
To determine areas with strong randomness of paleocurrent directions, the vector summation method was applied to the analysis of 2,638 paleocurrent measurements. Because this method is a sensitive measure of dispersion, it was possible to outline areas displaying high and low vector strength values. Areas of high scatter commonly yield low values and polymodal distribution, and areas with low scatter are characterized by high values and unimodal distribution. Thus, areas of high channel sinuosity were successfully outlined. Major known uranium deposits occur most commonly in areas of low vector strength values. Such areas were compared with those containing known ore deposits and those considered favorable for future discoveries, and the results support the conclusion. Although the vector method has been used in many paleocurrent studies, this is the first time it has been applied in conjunction with other geologic criteria to delineate and select areas favorable for uranium exploration in sandstone deposits.
The results show an important relationship among low paleocurrent vector strength values, carbonaceous material, channel curves, and uranium occurrences in the sandstone channels.