Hydrothermal Alteration in Hydro-Fractured Athabasca Basin Sandstone: Distal Expression of Uranium Mineralization?

Abstract A 10-cm thick clay-rich layer near the top of the Manitou Falls Formation of the Athabasca Group is unusual in its breccia texture, alteration, and detrital mineral composition relative to the adjacent overlying and underlying sedimentary beds. This layer is composed of angular quartz grains set in an illite >> kaolinite + dickite matrix. Deformed clay-rich fragments within the layer have very similar mineral assemblages. The presence of euhedral accessory minerals including Ti-oxides and aluminophosphatesulphate minerals points to a diagenetic/hydrothermal origin. The presence of individual grains of Kfeldspar and amphibole is unusual relative to the typical Athabasca quartz arenite; originally, these minerals were probably included in detrital quartz and subsequently liberated during fracturing. The textures and alteration characteristics suggest that this layer is a hydraulically-fractured unit, which has experienced hydrothermal fluid alteration — a possible pathway distally related to uranium mineralization.
Keywords: microbreccia, hydrothermal alteration, hydraulic fracturing, uranium mineralization
Résumé Une couche argileuse de 10 cm d’épaisseur près du sommet de la Formation de Manitou Falls du Groupe d'Athabasca est remarquable par sa texture brèchique, son altération et la composition de ses minéraux détritiques qui diffèrent de ceux des couches sédimentaires sus- et sous-jacente. Cette couche est composée de grains de quartz angulaires dans une matrice composée d’illite >> kaolinite + dickite. Des fragments déformés riches en argile dans cette couche présentent des assemblages minéraux très similaires. La présence de minéraux accessoires idiomorphes dont des oxydes de titane et des aluminophosphates-sulphates suggère que ces derniers ont une origine diagénétique / hydrothermale. La présence de grains de feldspath-K et d'amphibole est inhabituelle comparativement aux arénites quartziques typiques de l’Athabasca; initialement, ces minéraux constituaient probablement des inclusions dans le quartz détritique qui ont été subséquemment libérées pendant la fracturation. Les textures et les caractéristiques de l'altération suggèrent que cette unité a subi une fracturation hydraulique et a été altérée par un fluide hydrothermal – possiblement en lien avec les effets distaux de mise en place de la minéralisation en l'uranium.
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Summary: We use the results of new bedrock mapping, combined with geochemical point data and airborne radiometric data (in particular equivalent uranium concentrations) to help determine which geological units in the Paleoproterozoic Great Bear magmatic zone (GBmz) contain elevated uranium. The data collectively indicate that the highest primary uranium concentrations are in equigranular granites and subvolcanic/volcanic porphyries. Notably, these rocks host the majority of known uranium-bearing...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): LUKE OOTES, JEFF HARRIS, VALERIE A. JACKSON, BRONWYN AZAR, AND LOUISE CORRIVEAU
Keywords: Wopmay orogen, Great Bear magmatic zone, bedrock geochemistry, IOCG, unconformityrelated uranium
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: The nature and distribution of radiation-induced defects (RIDs) in quartz from the Maw Zone, a yttrium- and rare-earth-element-enriched sandstone breccia complex exhibiting intense hydrothermal alteration, have been investigated by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. EPR spectra show that detrital quartz in sandstone, from five diamond drill holes intersecting the Maw Zone and one above the crest of the so-called Quartzite Ridge, contain only background-level RIDs, indicating...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): YUANMING PAN, GARY YEO, BRETT ROGERS, CHRISTINE AUSTMAN, AND BAOQUAN HU
Keywords: quartz EPR, radiation-induced defects, hydrothermal alteration, uranium exploration, Athabasca Basin
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: The use of CR-39 plastic polymer as a solid state nuclear track detector in the textural analysis of radioactive minerals in geological samples was first described by I.R Basham in 1981. CR-39 autoradiographs provide a detailed, high-resolution image of the in situ distribution of the radioactive minerals within geological samples on both the macroscopic and microscopic scales. This technique is an inexpensive and effective means of obtaining detailed textural information that provides...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): G.W. SPARKES
Keywords: uranium, CR-39, autoradiograph, Labrador, uraninite
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: The U-Th-REE mineralization at Fraser Lakes Zone B is hosted by granitic pegmatites and leucogranites, which lie along the deformed contact between Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary gneiss of the Wollaston Group and Archean orthogneiss, approximately 25 km from the southeastern edge of the Athabasca Basin. The pegmatites/leucogranites are subcordant to concordant with the regional foliation and are concentrated within a northeast-plunging antiformal fold nose, the study area, which lies west...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): CHRISTINE L. MCKECHNIE, IRVINE R. ANNESLEY , AND KEVIN M. ANSDELL
Keywords: U-rich pegmatites, Th-REE-rich pegmatites, Fraser Lakes Zone B, Wollaston Domain, Athabasca Basin, U metallogeny
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: A new method for mapping faults within basement rocks underlying the Thelon Formation and glacial overburden was developed and tested in the Aberdeen Sub-basin. This method utilizes newly acquired aeromagnetic data, the Blakely algorithm for defining magnetic source edges, a calculated dip-direction map, a digital elevation model (DEM) derived from the Canadian Digital Elevation Database, and the positions of identified, inferred and newly mapped faults that are within and adjacent to this...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): VICKI TSCHIRHART, BILL MORRIS, AND CHARLES JEFFERSON
Keywords: faults, uranium, Thelon Basin, source edge detection, lineament analysis
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: The Dragon Lake Zone (uranium prospect) comprises a N160º trending vein that is approximately 110 m long, up to 5 m wide and from 1 to 40 m high. The zone is mostly within altered sandstone of the Fair Point Formation, the basal unit of the Paleoproterozoic Athabasca Group, but it also extends downward (up to 3.5 m) into basement rocks that occupy the northerly trending Maybelle River Shear Zone (MRSZ). This subvertical shear zone separates graphitic paragneiss and weakly deformed granitoid...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): K. WHEATLEY AND C. CUTTS
Keywords: uranium, unconformity, Alberta, Maybelle River, Dragon Lake, Athabasca
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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Summary: Lac Cinquante is a mineralogically simple, vein-hosted uranium deposit in Archean basement rocks (Angikuni greenstone belt) that originally were unconformably overlain by Proterozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Baker Lake Group (BLG). Basement rocks are mainly pillowed and massive tholeiitic lavas (N-MORB) with interbedded tuff; overlying sedimentary rocks comprise a basal talus/fault breccia that grades upward into fluvial sedimentary rocks and subaerial, trachytic volcanic rocks;...
Publication: Exploration & Mining Geology
Author(s): N.J. BRIDGE, N.R. BANERJEE, S. PEHRSSON, M. FAYEK, C.S. FINNIGAN, J. WARD, AND A. BERRY
Keywords: NW Hearne, Archean basement, Baker Lake Group, Angikuni subbasin, vein-hosted uranium, graphite
Issue: 1
Volume: 21
Year: 2013
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