Abstract

Seismic-reflection techniques have been applied in several studies over the last 20 years as a uranium-exploration tool within the Athabasca Basin and have been utilized to provide the larger structural context for known uranium deposits within the basin. At the crustal scale, deposits within the eastern Athabasca Basin are shown to be associated with deep-seated shear zones that originated during Trans-Hudson orogeny and have subsequently been reactivated during and subsequent to deposition of the basin-fill sandstones. Seismic properties of the Athabasca sandstones and underlying basement have been determined through in situ borehole measurements. Reflectivity within the sandstones is generally weak. Seismically recognizable signatures are primarily associated with variations in fracture density, porosity, and degree of silicification. The basement unconformity and regolith, a prime target of exploration, is widely imaged as it is characterized by variable but generally distinct reflectivity. Results from the McArthur River mine site suggest that the spatial coincidence of seismically imaged high-velocity zones and deep-seated faults that offset the unconformity may be a more broadly applicable exploration targeting tool. Three-dimensional (3-D) seismic imaging near existing ore zones can define the local structural controls on the mineralization and point the way to new targets, thus leading to more efficient exploration drilling programs. Furthermore, seismically generated structural maps of the unconformity and rock competence properties may play a significant role at the outset of mine planning.

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