Abstract

In the Athabasca Basin, diagenetic hematite of variable paragenesis occurs throughout the sandstones and underlying paleoregolith. This hematite carries three distinct, single-component magnetizations: A (D = 158°, I = 62°, α95 = 5°, n = 21); B (D = 11°, I = −36°, α95 = 7°, n = 6); and C (D = 18°, I = 79°, α95 = 3°, n = 27). In some areas of the sandstones, such as near reactivated fault zones, the diagenetic hematite has been altered to goethite which yields a very low-intensity, incoherent D magnetization. Ages for the A, B, and C magnetizations, inferred from comparisons with paleomagnetic directions in Precambrian rocks whose ages are known approximately, are 1750–1600, 1600–1450, and about 900 Ma, respectively. The A magnetization is carried by the earliest formed hematite, and its estimated age compares well with U–Pb ages of 1650–1700 Ma for early diagenetic apatite. U–Pb and Rb–Sr ages of approximately 1500 and 900 Ma for uraninite and illite coeval with hematite that carries the B and C magnetizations compare well with their ages estimated from paleomagnetism. The development of B magnetization appears to be coeval with high-grade, unconformity-type uranium mineralization.Petrographic and field relationships indicate that the A magnetization is carried by hematite formed during initial diagenesis of the Athabasca sandstones, the B magnetization is carried by hematite formed during peak diagenesis, and the C magnetization is carried by hematite formed during subsequent high-temperature hydrothermal alteration. The incoherent D magnetizations have resulted from degradation of hematite to goethite as a result of incursion of low-temperature meteoric waters along fault zones that have been continuously reactivated since the late Precambrian. δ18O values of clay minerals and of the coeval hematite which carries the B and C magnetization indicate that they were formed from a fluid having temperatures of 150–200 °C and δ18O values near 1.0‰. Fluids that deposited the early formed hematite carrying the A magnetism are relatively 18O depleted, with values of approximately 0.8‰ and somewhat lower temperatures of 120–160 °C. Intermingling of A, B, and C magnetizations indicates either that hematite may be deposited by one fluid and reprecipitated by a subsequent fluid, or that fluid flow was controlled by local variations in permeability. Evidently, fluid flow has been episodic and basin wide and has occurred over a time span on the order of 108 years. It is suggested that the stratigraphy of the sandstones controlled the basin-wide lateral migration of the basinal fluids and that faults facilitated interformational fluid flow.

You do not currently have access to this article.