Catahoula Formation of the Texas Coastal Plain: Origin, Geochemical Evolution, and Characterisitics of Uranium Deposits

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Date

1979

Authors

Galloway, William E.
Kaiser, W. R.

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Abstract

Uranium was released from volcanic glass deposited within the Catahoula through early pedogenic and diagenetic processes. Pedogenesis was the most efficient process for mobilizing uranium. Original uranium content in fresh Catahoula glass is estimated to have averaged at least 10 ppM; about 5 ppM was mobilized after deposition and made available for migration. Uranium was transported predominantly as uranyl dicarbonate ion. Chlorinity mapping reveals modern ground-water flow patterns. Six utranium deposits representative of the ores were studied. Uranium-bearing meteoric waters were reduced by pre-ore stage pyrite formed by extrinsically introduced fault-leaked sulfide or intrinsically by organic matter. Uranium was concentrated in part by adsorption on Ca-montmorillonite cutans, amorphous TiO/sub 2/, and/or organic matter followed by uranyl reduction to U/sup 4 +/ in amorphous uranous silicates. Clinoptilolite is not correlative with mineralization. Calcite is pervasive throughout host sands but shows no relationship to uranium mineralization. Presence of marcasite and uranium together at the alteration front strongly supports an acid pH during Catahoula mineralization. Maximum adsorption and minimum solubility of uranium occur at pH 6 in carbonate-rich waters. Log activity ratios of individual waters supersaturated with respect to montmorillonite, taken from montmorillonite-clinoptilolite activity diagrams, show positive correlation with uranium mineralization. High Ca/sup 2 +/, Mg/sup 2 +/, Al(OH)/sub 4//sup -/, and H/sup +/ activities promote the formation of montmorillonite relative to clinoptilolite. High saturation ratios for montmorillonite show fair correlation with mineralization. The mineral-solution equilibria approach is a potential method of geochemical exploration. 56 figures, 8 tables.

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