Underemphasized processes of uranium mineralization
Few mineralization processes for any element have been thoroughly documented and proved and, although uranium is one of the most studied commercial elements, not all of its mineralization processes are accurately known.
Exploration usually proceeds by assuming a specific process or mechanism and then searching for conditions that would permit, support, or induce the process. Success is more or less a measure of support for the original assumption, but not proof of its validity, because evidence for one interpretation can be permissive to others that are entirely different.
Early and significant success achieved by following the laterogene and multiple migration-accretion interpretations induced emphasis on this model to the point where it now dominates the bulk of exploration. Yet the sharply declining success index suggests that such a model may have outlived its usefulness. Most of the deposits easily identified by these criteria appear to have been found. Current failures resulting from application of the model are not an indication that it is wrong but, rather, that perhaps it is still incomplete, and is not the only genesis.
This review of possible mobilization and fixation processes has, if nothing more, demonstrated that there are many possible processes and mechanisms. The review also suggests which processes are most likely to have involved the greatest volumes and concentrations of uranium. Therefore, a useful conclusion to the analysis is the enumeration of potentially significant processes which, in the rush to test laterogenesis, may have escaped emphasis.
Figures & Tables
Migration of Uranium and Thorium-Exploration Significance
The uranium resource industry since the late 1960s has presented a paradox to those concerned with the growing energy shortage and the relative ability of uranium resources to respond to the need on a timely basis. This publication reviews the possible ways that uranium in the earth might be concentrated into economic deposits, and considers what industry should be able to expect from an exploration effort. Some of the chapters in this volume include: Fundamental sources of uranium and thorium; Mechanisms of uranium and thorium transfer to the crust; Shallow uranium mobilization processes; Geochemical distinction of uranium moneralization processes; and Oceanic migration history of uranium and thorium.