A preliminary test of biogeochemical exploration for locating uranium occurrences in the Marfa Basin, Texas, was conducted in 1978. Only 6 of 74 plant samples (mostly catclaw mimosa, Mimosa biuncifera) contained uranium in amounts above the detection limit (0.4 ppm in the ash) of the conventional fluorometric method. The samples were then analyzed using a Scintrex UA-3 uranium analyzer* * Use of trade names in this paper is for descriptive purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey. - an instrument designed for direct analysis of uranium in water, and which can be conveniently used in a mobile field laboratory. The detection limit for uranium in plant ash (0.05 ppm) by this method is almost an order of magnitude lower than with the fluorometric conventional method. Only 1 of the 74 samples contained uranium below the detection limit of the new method. Accuracy and precision were determined to be satisfactory. Samples of plants growing on mineralized soils and nonmineralized soils show a 15-fold difference in uranium content; whereas the soils themselves (analyzed by delayed neutron activation analysis) show only a 4-fold difference. The method involves acid digestion of ashed tissue, extraction of uranium into ethyl acetate, destruction of the ethyl acetate, dissolution of the residue in 0.005% nitric acid, and measurement. ?? 1981.
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Laser fluorometric analysis of plants for uranium exploration