Abstract

Uranium deposits of the Wyoming roll type and the Colorado Plateau peneconcordant type are the principal domestic resources of uranium. Both types occur in lenticular sandstone beds of continental origin, have a similar suite of elements and minerals, are associated with mildly altered rock, and are thought to have formed by reduction precipitation from ground waters before significant regional deformation. They differ in several respects. The Wyoming deposits are in unlithified sandstone that is highly arkosic, whereas the Colorado Plateau deposits are in lithified sandstone that is only slightly to moderately arkosic. Uranium is the only ore metal in the Wyoming deposits, whereas vanadium or copper is more abundant than uranium in some of the Plateau deposits. The Wyoming deposits are elongate crescent-shaped bodies that extend vertically through, or partly through, a sandstone unit and which are scattered, like widely spaced beads on a string, along miles-long interfaces between oxidized (altered) and unoxidized sandstone, whereas the Plateau deposits are thin tabular layers that are nearly concordant to bedding and which occur as discrete bodies, like raisins in raisin bread, enveloped in rock altered by reduction. The Wyoming ore rolls and interfaces were dynamic, having been pushed downdip by downward-moving oxygen-bearing water that passed through the interfaces and deposited the ore minerals on the reducing side, whereas the Plateau deposits seemingly formed as static bodies, localized by intensive reducing "patches" in a mildly reducing environment. These differences focus attention on genetic problems relating to the Eh of the ore-bearing and altering solutions, the shape and localization of deposits, and the source of the uranium.

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