Geospatial integration of regional geochemical data with the uranium exploration model to enhance exploration in the Athabasca Basin, Canada
CIM Montreal 2015
Eric Potter (Geological Survey of Canada, NRCan), Donald Wright (Peridot Geoscience Ltd)
With the recent compilation of a regional geochemistry database for the Athabasca Basin, integration of regional geochemical data with other components of the uranium exploration model provides another tool to improve exploration successes in this prolific mining camp. The Athabasca Basin, located in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, hosts the world’s highest grade unconformity-associated uranium deposits. While most of known deposits occur along the shallow, eastern margin of the basin, recent discoveries in the underlying basement rocks and in deeper portions of the basin highlight the need for cost effective means of targeting resources at significant depths (eg >800 m).
Several distinct geochemical signatures are recognized in the regional dataset, reflecting processes such as diagenesis, hydrothermal alteration, uranium enrichment, and changes in lithology. Geospatial integration of the hydrothermal and ore signatures with regional lineaments and the exploration model highlights that they: 1) correspond with known uranium occurrences and deposits; 2) occur in the exposed and near-surface rocks, including locations overlying ore at significant depths; and 3) correspond with lineament traces and highlight lineament intersections that are fertile for uranium enrichment. These results reaffirm that when integrated with modern exploration tools in GIS environments, regional geochemistry datasets can target deeply-buried unconformity-related uranium ore systems.