Ten springs along the southeast flank of the Shirley Mountains, Carbon County, Wyoming, have water containing from 12 to 27 parts per billion uranium, have a total estimated flow of 3 million gallons of clear fresh water per day, and have a combined annual output that may be as much as 166 pounds of uranium. These springs emerge from Pennsylvanian, Permian, and Triassic rocks on the east flank of a faulted anticlinal fold.
In the vicinity of several springs, metatyuyamunite occurs locally in crystalline calcite veins averaging 3 feet in width but reaching a maximum of 24 feet. The veins are as much as several hundred feet long-and cut vertically through sandstones of Pennsylvanian age overlying the Madison Limestone (Mississippian). This limestone is believed to be the source of the calcite. A 3-foot channel sample cross one calcite vein contains 0.089 percent uranium. Lesser amounts of uranium were obtained from other channel samples. Selected samples contain from 0.39 to 2.2 percent uranium and from 0.25 to 0.86 percent vanadium.
Three possible sources of the uranium are: (1) Precambrian rocks, (2) Paleozoic rocks, (3) Pliocene(?) tuffaceous strata that were deposited unconformably across older .rocks in both the graphically high and low parts of the area, but were subsequently removed by erosion except for a few small remnants, one of which contains carnotite.
There is apparently a close genetic relation between the uraniferous springs and uranium mineralization in the calcite veins. Data from this locality illustrate how uraniferous ground water can be used as a guide in the exploration for areas where uranium deposits may occur. Also demonstrated is the fact that significant quantities of uranium are present in water of some large flowing springs.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Large uraniferous springs and associated uranium minerals, Shirley Mountains, Carbon County, Wyoming -- A preliminary report