The Rum Jungle Uranium field consists of at least six early Proterozoic deposits that have been mined either for uranium and/or the associated base and precious metals. Organic matter in the host rocks of the Whites Formation and Coomalie Dolomite is now predominantly graphite, consistent with the metamorphic history of these rocks. For nine samples, the mean total organic carbon content is high (3.9 wt%) and ranged from 0.33 to 10.44 wt%. Palynological extracts from the host rocks include black, filamentous, stellate (Eoastrion-like), and spherical morphotypes, which are typical of early Proterozoic microbiota. The colour, abundance, and shapes of these morphotypes reflect the thermal history, organic richness, and probable lacustrine biofacies of the host rocks. Routine analysis of rock thin sections and of palynological residues shows that mineral grains in some of the host rocks are coated with graphitized organic matter. The grain coating is presumed to result from ultimate thermal degradation of a petroleum phase that existed prior to metamorphism. Hydrocarbons are, however, still present in fluid inclusions within carbonates of the Coomalie Dolomite and lower Whites Formation. The fluid inclusions fluoresce dull orange in blue-light excitation and their hydrocarbon content is confirmed by gas chromatography of whole-rock extracts. Preliminary analysis of the oil suggests that it is migrated, and because it has escaped graphitization through metamorphism it is probably not of early Proterozoic age. The presence of live oil is consistent with fluid inclusion data that suggest subsequent, low-temperature brine migration through the rocks. The present observations support earlier suggestions that organic matter in the host formations trapped uranium to form protore. Subsequent fluid migrations probably brought additional uranium and other metals to these formations, and the organic matter provided a reducing environment for entrapment. ?? 1990.
Additional Publication Details
Organic tissues, graphite, and hydrocarbons in host rocks of the Rum Jungle Uranium Field, northern Australia