Assay for uranium and determination of disequilibrium by means of in situ high resolution gamma-ray spectrometry

Open-File Report 77-571

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Two sealed sondes, using germanium gamma-ray detectors cooled by melting propane, have been field tested to depths of 79 m in water-filled boreholes at the Pawnee Uranium Mine in Bee Co., Texas. When, used as total-count devices, the sondes are comparable in logging speed and counting rate with conventional scintillation detectors for locating zones of high radioactivity. When used with a multichannel analyzer, the sondes are detectors with such high resolution that individual lines from the complex spectra of the uranium and thorium series can be distinguished. Gamma rays from each group of the uranium series can be measured in ore zones permitting determination of the state of equilibrium at each measurement point. Series of 10-minute spectra taken at 0.3- to 0.5-m intervals in several holes showed zones where maxima from the uranium group and from the 222Rn group were displaced relative to each other. Apparent excesses of 230Th at some locations suggest that uranium-group concentrations at those locations were severalfold greater some tens of kiloyears, ago. At the current state of development a 10-minute count yields a sensitivity of about 80 ppm U308. Data reduction could in practice be accomplished in about 5 minutes. The result is practically unaffected by disequilibrium or radon contamination. In comparison with core assay, high-resolution spectrometry samples a larger volume; avoids problems due to incomplete core recovery, loss of friable material to drilling fluids, and errors in depth and marking; and permits use of less expensive drilling methods. Because gamma rays from the radionuclides are accumulated simultaneously, it also avoids the problems inherent in trying to correlate logs made in separate runs with different equipment. Continuous-motion delayed-gamma activation by a 163-?g 252Cf neutron source attached to the sonde yielded poor sensitivity. A better neutron-activation method, in which the sonde is moved in steps so as to place the detector at the previous activation point, could not be evaluated because of equipment failure.

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USGS Numbered Series
Assay for uranium and determination of disequilibrium by means of in situ high resolution gamma-ray spectrometry
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
22, 11 leaves :ill. (some fold.) ;28 cm.; (22 p. - PGS)