Sedimentary-type uranium deposits accumulate at favorable sites along a migration path which may be kilometers in length. Their source is a large volume of rock from which the uranium has been leached. The geochemical mobilities and half lives of uranium and its daughter products vary widely so that they are transported from the source rocks, at different rates, along the migration path to their ultimate site. The radioactive disequilibrium resulting from this process has been well documented in the immediate vicinity of ore deposits, and disequilibrium is commonly recorded on gamma-ray logs up the hydraulic gradient from uranium ore. Little is known about the state of secular equilibrium in the leached host rocks, which often represent the only part of the migration path that is at or near the surface and is thus most accessible to the exploration geophysicist. High-resolution gamma-ray spectrometry provides a means of investigating the disequilibrium associated with uranium leaching and migration. Direct measurement of uranium can be made by this method, and the equivalent weight percents can be determined for six of the seven daughter-product decay groups that characterize the state of radioactive equilibrium. The technique has been used quantitatively in laboratory studies, where the results compare favorably with radiochemical analyses; field experiments suggest that semi-quantitative data may be obtained at the outcrop.
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High-resolution gamma-ray spectrometry in uranium exploration