Abstract

The Paleoproterozoic Thelon Basin, located on the border between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of Canada, is a contemporaneous analog of the uranium-rich Paleoproterozoic Athabasca Basin in Canada. Early diagenesis resulted in precipitation of extensive hematite on the surfaces of detrital quartz grains throughout the Thelon Formation and minor hydroxy-phosphate in veins locally. Continued diagenesis then resulted in syntaxial quartz cementation of detrital quartz at 130°C from fluids having ca. 17 wt.% equivalent NaCl, similar to the Athabasca Basin. Cementation of this type is most pronounced in fine-grained sequences in the Thelon Basin. A period of extensive desilicification during continued burial was followed by formation, at ca. 200°C, of peak-diagenetic illite having Ar–Ar ages of ca. 1400–1690 Ma in the Thelon Formation. This illite was associated with fluids with δ18O and δD values of ca. 6‰ and –50‰, respectively, similar to those during peak diagenesis of the Athabasca Basin. Although the timing, salinity, and isotopic composition of the peak-diagenetic fluids in the Thelon and Athabasca Basins are similar, the peak-diagenetic mineral assemblage in the Athabasca Formation is dickite and illite, with minor dravite and goyasite rather than simply illite. Consequently, the fluids at peak diagenesis, which in the Athabasca Basin are synchronous with formation of world-class unconformity-type uranium deposits, had different compositions in each basin. Post-peak diagenesis in the Thelon Basin was quite distinct from that in the Athabasca Basin in that illite was replaced in the central portion of the basin by K-feldspar and then sudoite, which crystallized from saline brines at ca. 1000 Ma and 100°C. Evidence for later infiltration of these brines is absent in the Athabasca Basin, although uranium mobilization at ca. 900 Ma from fluids having the same characteristics as those at peak diagenesis was pronounced in the Athabasca Basin. Recent incursion of meteoric waters along reactivated structures into the Athabasca Basin has variably affected hydrous and uraniferous minerals, but evidence for this is lacking in the Thelon Basin. The Thelon Basin reflects less intensive fluid–rock interaction in its early history than that recorded in the basal units of the Athabasca Basin.

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