Abstract

Between 1952 and 1956 a study was made of some of the U-bearing hydrothermal veins in the northern part of the Boulder batholith, Montana. Three mines, the W. Wilson, G. Washington, and Free Enterprise, were investigated in detail. The veins are characterized by a microcrystalline quartz gangue containing sparsely scattered, very fine-grained sulfide minerals and uraninite. Above the present water table, secondary U minerals are abundant locally. Throughout the area the veins - called "siliceous reefs" - strike E to NE, are of steep dip, and vary in thickness from a fraction of an inch to several feet. The country rock is granodiorite containing, in order of abundance, plagioclase (An 30 to An 36 ), quartz, orthoclase, biotite, and hornblende, with apatite, zircon, and sphene. Small bodies of aplite, pegmatite, and alaskite occur along some veins. The granodiorite adjacent to the veins is rather strongly altered. The alteration is similar throughout all of the deposits studied, in barren and ore-bearing portions alike. The essential minerals show a characteristic sequence of alteration, in the order hornblende, andesine, biotite, orthoclase, and quartz. Successive zones of alteration are characterized, from the vein outward, by maximum development of sericite (muscovite polytype 1 M, in part), kaolinite, and montmorillonite. Other alteration products are quartz, pyrite, calcite, leucoxene, and chlorite. The alteration resulted in an increase in silica and ferric iron, a decrease in alumina, total Fe, ferrous Fe, lime, soda, and magnesia, and little change in potash, titania, P, carbon dioxide, and S. Consideration of the stability fields of the sheet structure silicate minerals indicates little basis for interpretation of the temperatures prevailing during mineralization.

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