Abstract

Unconformity-type deposits supply a significant amount of the world's uranium and consist of uranium that is generally codeposited with graphite in a fault zone. The low resistivity of the graphite produces a significant contrast in electrical resistivity, which can be located with electromagnetic (EM) methods. The Athabasca Basin in Western Canada hosts significant uranium deposits, and exploration in deeper parts of the basin has required the application of new EM methods. This paper presents an evaluation of the audiomagnetotelluric (AMT) exploration method at the McArthur River mine in the Athabasca Basin. AMT data were collected at 132 stations on a grid, and two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) inversions were used to generate resistivity models. These models showed two major results: (1) a significant conductor coincident with a major basement fault (P2) and the uranium deposits (this conductor begins at the unconformity at a depth of 550 m and extends to a depth of at least three km) and (2) a resistive halo which might be caused by the silicification associated with mineralization. However, synthetic inversions showed that this halo could be an artifact of smoothing function in the inversion scheme. The 2D inversions were validated by synthetic inversions, comparison with the 3D inversion models, and correlation with well-log information. 3D AMT forward modeling showed that strong 3D effects are not present in the AMT impedance data. Induction vectors showed more evidence of complexity, but the inclusion of these data in the inversion improved subsurface resolution.

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