U-Pb isotope systematics and age of uranium mineralization, Midnite mine, Washington.

Economic Geology

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DOI: 10.2113/​gsecongeo.76.1.89



Uranium ores at the Midnite mine, near Spokane, Washington, occur in phyllites and calcsilicates of the Proterozoic Togo Formation, near the margins of an anomalously uraniferous, porphyritic quartz monzonite of Late Cretaceous age. The present geometry of the ore zones is tabular, with the thickest zones above depressions in the pluton-country rock contact. Analyses of high-grade ores from the mine define a 207 Pb/ 204 Pb- 235 U/ 204 Pb isochron indicating an age of mineralization of 51.0 + or - 0.5 m.y. This age coincides with a time of regional volcanic activity (Sanpoil Volcanics), shallow intrusive activity, erosion, and faulting. U-Th-Pb isotopic ages of zircons from the porphyritic quartz monzonite in the mine indicate an age of about 75 m.y., hence the present orebodies were formed about 24 m.y. after its intrusion. The 51-m.y. time of mineralization probably represents a period of mobilization and redeposition of uranium by supergene ground waters, perhaps aided by mild heating and ground preparation and preserved by a capping of newly accumulated, impermeable volcanic rocks. It seems most likely that the initial concentration of uranium occurred about 75 m.y. ago, probably from relatively mild hydrothermal fluids in the contact-metamorphic aureole of the U-rich porphyritic quartz monzonite.Pitchblende, coffinitc, pyrite, marcasite, and hisingerite are the most common minerals in the uranium-bearing veinlets, with minor sphalerite and chalcopyrite. Coffinitc with associated marcasite is paragenetically later than pitchblende, though textural and isotopic evidence suggests no large difference in the times of pitchblende and colfinite formation.The U-Pb isotope systematics of total ores and of pitchblende-coffinite and pyrite-marcasite separates show that whereas open system behavior for U and Pb is essentially negligible for large (200-500 g) ore samples, Pb migration has occurred on a scale of 1 to 10 mm (out of pitchblende and coffinite and into pyrite and marcasite). Also, long-term continuous leakage of radioactive daughters of 238 U (probably 222 Rn) has occurred on scales of from approximately 100 mu m approximately 10 cm. The isotopic composition of unsupported radiogenic Pb in pyrite-marcasite seems to depend on the mineralogical microenvironment of the grains, so that the radiogenic Pb in pyrite-marcasite intimately intermixed with pitchblende-coffinite tends to be deficient in 206 Pb, and the radiogenic Pb in pyrite-marcasite in gangue tends to have excess 206 Pb. These systematics probably reflect differences between the average distances of Pb and 222 Rn diffusion since the formation of the ores.

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U-Pb isotope systematics and age of uranium mineralization, Midnite mine, Washington.
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Economic Geology
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22 p.
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Economic Geology
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United States