Geology and Concepts of Genesis of Important Types of Uranium Deposits
Uranium ore deposits occur in nearly every major rock type in the earth’s crust, and nearly all igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary processes are capable of concentrating or dispersing uranium. However, only three types of deposits account for more than 70 percent of known Western World Reasonably Assured Resources (WWRAR): Precambrian quartz-pebble conglomerate type, Proterozoic unconformity type, and Phanerozoic sandstone type. Igneous-related processes in plutonic, volcanic, and magmatic-hydrothermal environments, considered important 25 years ago, now account for less than 10 percent of world resources known at present.
The oldest known ore deposits were formed in conglomerates by placer processes under unique anoxic conditions. For the last 2.2 b.y., since oxygenation of the atmosphere, the genesis of both high- and low-temperature deposits has been dominated by three general geochemical processes: (1) oxidation of uranium to soluble U(VI) species permitting aqueous transport, perhaps most commonly as uranyl-carbonate complexes; (2) reduction, principally by C, S−2, or Fe+2 species, to U(IV) to allow precipitation of uraninite (pitchblende), and coffinite, although the specific reductant commonly cannot be determined because these three tend to be associated geologically; and (3) igneous and metamorphic differentiation caused by exclusion of uranium from crystal structure of most rock-forming minerals.
The geochemistry of uranium ore-forming processes has changed in time because of the evolution of life forms and their impact on the earth’s oxygen and carbon budgets. This evolution is reflected in changing predominance of ore types in geologic time: (1) pre-2.8 b.y. ago—no known uranium ore deposits; (2) ca. 2.8 to 2.2 b.y. ago—the first intràcratonic basins and anoxic atmosphere permitted accumulation of placer deposits of uraninite in quartz-pebble conglomerates; these deposits contain about 19 percent of the western world’s resources; (3) ca. 2.2 to 0.4 b.y. ago—following oxygenation of the atmosphere uranium was oxidized and transported as soluble U(VI) complexes to sites of reduction, commonly in organic carbon-rich marginal marine environments. Diagenesis, metamorphism, and near-surface redox enrichment subsequently formed unconformity-type, ultrametamorphic-type, and vein-type ore deposits which together contain more than 25 percent of the western world’s resources; (4) ca. 0.4 b.y. ago to present—after development of land plants the most important ore-forming process was redox-controlled deposition from ground water in continental sediments. Sandstone-type deposits, characteristic of this stage, contain about 40 percent of the western world’s resources.
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The first notions of a new journal came to J. E. Spurr during the closing days of 1904. When he shared his thoughts with friends in Washington, D. C., they were so enthusiastic about the suggestion that they formed themselves into an ad-hoc committee to seek ways to implement the idea. The ad-hoc group met informally for several months and by May of the following year was ready to announce the birth of an unusual new publishing company and the journal the company would produce. The first formal meeting of the Economic Geology Publishing Company took place on May 16, 1905. The first issue of the new journal appeared in October of the same year, and the first volume was completed in December 1906. The birthing was not easy, but it was successful because the founders provided much of the financing as well as the first papers. The story of those earliest days and the many struggles of the fledgling journal is engagingly recounted by Alan M. Bateman in an article published in the Fiftieth Anniversary volume.
From inception, management of the journal has differed from the management of most scientific journals. There was no sponsoring society, so the founders raised capital by incorporating and selling shares in the venture. The journal has been owned and published by the Economic Geology Publishing Company ever since. There is no record that the founders experienced difficulties in selling shares in the Company, but they must have had some because the Publishing Company had a goal that other corporations(and presumably many of the investors) would have found difficulty in understanding: the new corporation was committed to keeping the books balanced but not to making a profit.
Initially incorporated in the District of Columbia, the Publishing Company was reincorporated in 1970 as a nonprofit membership corporation in Delaware. The modification in corporate status came in response to a suggestion made by the Internal Revenue Service.
The affairs of the Publishing Company are controlled by a Board of Directors, and the journal is sold to the public by direct subscription. Day-to-day operations of paper selection, review, and printing are in the hands of the Editor, while business matters, such as subscriptions and advertising, are in the hands of the Business Editor.
The one tie the Publishing Company has with a society was instituted many years after the journal. was founded—with the Society of Economic Geologists. When the Society was founded in 1920 it first considered publishing its own bulletin. Because the venture seemed financially questionable, and the coffers of the new society were bare, an arrangement was reached whereby members of the Society first received offPrints of papers written by its members and eventually Economic Geology as