Abstract

Uranium mineralization in the Patterson Lake corridor (southwestern Churchill province, Canada) is hosted in the metamorphosed Paleoproterozoic basement covered to the north by the flat-lying sandstone formations of the Athabasca Basin. The mineralization is exclusively contained within inherited ductile structures that were reactivated under a brittle regime. Petrographic and micro-structural studies of drill core samples from the Spitfire discovery (Hook Lake project) reveal the linkages between structural evolution of the basement, alteration and mineralization. During basement exhumation, localization of non-coaxial deformation led to the formation of a large anastomosing shear zone system made of mylonitic rocks. Strain localization associated with fluid circulation induced strong mineralogical and rheological changes, forming discontinuities in mechanical anisotropy. During and post-deposition of the Athabasca Basin after 1.80 Ga, these zones of anisotropy localized brittle reactivation, expressed by a network of micro-fractures later amplified by dissolution processes which enhanced porosity later filled with phyllosilicates and uranium oxides. Cross-cutting relationships between alteration minerals and structures indicate that fluid circulation was active after the basement exhumation. Uranium-bearing fluids moved through the network of micro-fractures. As shown for the Spitfire prospect, fertile structures in the basement below the Athabasca Basin have a combined poly-phase structural and alteration history during which development of ductile shear zones followed by brittle reactivation and dissolution processes led to the formation of superimposed shear and damaged zones in which uranium orebodies are located.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Uranium Fluid Pathways collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/uranium-fluid-pathways

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