Abstract

Petrologic and sulfur isotopic studies have been carried out on drill core samples from a roll-type uranium deposit in the mid-Tertiary Catahoula Tuff, Webb County, south Texas. Epigenetic iron disulfide minerals formed in two distinct stages. The first stage involved sulfidization of the host rock by sulfide (H 2 S, HS-)-bearing solutions that emanated from a fault about 1.5 km downdip from and subparallel to the orebody. Pyrite was the dominant iron disulfide mineral formed from this fault sulfide. The isotopic composition (delta 34 S) of first-stage iron disulfide is quite heavy (>0 per mil), in part because the fault-derived H 2 S was isotopically heavy. The development of the second-stage sulfides was related to processes that formed the uranium roll. Iron disulfide minerals produced during this second stage commonly occur as rims around the first-stage sulfides. The rims are exclusively marcasite in and adjacent to ore, but the pyrite content in these rims increases with increasing distance from ore. The sulfur of the second-stage sulfides in the vicinity of the roll front is isotopically light (--25 to --40 per mil). The virtual absence of organic carbon in the host sand precludes a bacterial origin for the ore-stage iron disulfide minerals and, therefore, eliminates bacterial metabolism as the mechanism for isotopic fractionation. Instead, the sulfur source for ore-stage sulfides was preore (first stage) sulfides, remobilized via partial oxidation to soluble metastable sulfur oxyanions.

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