Subsurface Gypsum Deposits Near Fort McMurray, Alberta
As a result of a test-drilling program conducted by the Research Council of Alberta in 1968, a gypsum deposit averaging 30 feet in thickness, with a chemical purity of 84 per cent gypsum, has been proven to underlie the Clearwater River valley for a distance of 18 miles at depths ranging from near-surface to 300 feet. This and other subsurface deposits in the vicinity of Fort McMurray, Alberta are the product of local hydration of anhydrite beds believed to be the water-insoluble remains of the leached Prairie Evaporite formation of Middle Devonian age, the thick salt section of which is preserved down dip. The effects of salt solution are seen in the disturbed bedding and the intermixture of greyish green shale with gypsum in the core, the shale content being responsible for the rather low chemical purity of the deposit. A similar gypsum deposit, but probably of higher purity, is postulated to occur beneath the Athabasca River valley about 60 miles north of Fort McMurray.
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