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TitleUranium-rich diagenetic fluids provide the key to unconformity-related uranium mineralization in the Athabasca Basin
AuthorChi, G; Chu, H; Petts, DORCID logo; Potter, EORCID logo; Jackson, SORCID logo; Williams-Jones, A
SourceScientific Reports vol. 9, 5530, 2019 p. 1-10, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20180050
PublisherSpringer Nature
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf (Adobe® Reader®); html
ProvinceSaskatchewan; Alberta
NTS64E; 64L; 64M; 74E; 74F; 74G; 74H; 74I; 74J; 74K; 74L; 74M; 74N; 74O; 74P
AreaLake Athabasca
Lat/Long WENS-112.0000 -102.0000 60.0000 57.0000
Subjectseconomic geology; geochemistry; mineral deposits; uranium; unconformity-type deposit; ore mineral genesis; mineralization; diagenesis; fluid dynamics; brine; fluid inclusions; quartz; sodium; calcium; potassium; magnesium; iron; mass spectrometer analysis; core samples; Athabasca Basin; Locker Lake Formation; Wolverine Point Formation; Lazenby Lake Formation; Precambrian; Proterozoic
Illustrationsgeoscientific sketch maps; photomicrographs; phase diagrams; ternary diagrams; histograms; spectra; plots; bar graphs; frequency distribution diagrams
ProgramTargeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI-5) Uranium systems
Released2019 04 02
AbstractThe Proterozoic Athabasca Basin is well known for its unusually large-tonnage and high-grade 'unconformity-related' uranium (U) deposits, however, explanations for the basin-wide U endowment have not been clearly identified. Previous studies indicate that U-rich brines with up to ~600 ppm U and variable Na/Ca ratios (from Na-dominated to Ca-dominated) were present at the sites of U mineralization, but it is unknown whether such fluids were developed solely in the vicinity of the U deposits or at a basinal scale. Our microthermometric and LA-ICP-MS analyses of fluid inclusions in quartz overgrowths from the barren part of the basin indicate that U-rich brines (0.6 to 26.8 ppm U), including Na-dominated and Ca-dominated varieties, were widely developed in the basin. These U concentrations, although not as high as the highest found in the U deposits, are more than two orders of magnitude higher than most naturally occurring geologic fluids. The basin-scale development of U-rich diagenetic fluids is interpreted to be related to several geologic factors, including availability of basinal brines and U-rich lithologies, and a hydrogeologic framework that facilitated fluid circulation and U leaching. The combination of these favorable conditions is responsible for the U fertility of the Athabasca Basin.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI) is a collaborative federal geoscience program that provides industry with the next generation of geoscience knowledge and innovative techniques to better detect buried mineral deposits, thereby reducing some of the risks of exploration. This manuscript outlines presence of previously unrecognized, uranium-bearing brines preserved in the rock record of the Athabasca Basin. The presence of these brines during basin formation indicates that uranium-bearing fluids were not restricted to localized corridors as previously thought and may explain the unusually high-grade nature of the Athabasca Basin uranium deposits.

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