Abstract

Samples from the McLean 5 open-pit uranium mine, a small high-grade deposit located along a normal fault in the Miocene Oakville sandstone of Live Oak County, Texas, have been studied for uranium abundance, distribution, and nature of occurrence on the microscopic level. The host sandstone is composed of quartz, feldspars, and volcanic rock fragments, cemented by sparry calcite. Authigenic minerals include iron disulfide minerals (dominantly pyrite and some marcasite) and small amounts of clays, Ti oxides, and opal. High-grade ore (to 3% U) occurs along the fault, decreasing to less than 1,000 ppm within 10 m from the fault. The ore mineral is amorphous pitchblende and exhibits botryoidal morphology.The microscopic occurrence of uranium, documented by fission-track mapping of petrographic thin sections, is presented in detail. Uranium occurs abundantly as grain coatings and fillings in intergranular spaces in samples with high uranium content, where calcite cement has been partially or totally leached as mineralization proceeded. Lesser amounts are adsorbed onto leucoxene (microcrystalline anatase), mud clasts, and altered igneous rock fragments. Adsorbed uranium is the major mode of occurrence in samples, with lower uranium contents farther from the orebody.Textural relations indicate that iron sulfides formed both before and after mineralization. Initial mineralization was by adsorption onto aggregates of fine particles of Ti oxide and clay minerals of various origins. With dissolution of cement and continued uranium influx, uranium precipitated as grain coatings and pore fillings.

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