Study of five roll-type uranium deposits (three in Texas and two in Wyoming) has resulted in the recognition of ore-stage marcasite in each deposit. Ore-stage marcasite is identified by its close association with uranium- and vanadium-bearing phases in the ore zones; by its close association with ferroselite at and near the redox boundary in some deposits; by its abundance and distribution across deposits; and by its textural relationships with identifiable pre-ore iron disulfide minerals (primarily pyrite). In deposits that are essentially devoid of fossil vegetal debris, marcasite is the dominant ore-stage sulfide and occurs in a large volume of rock beyond the ore zones. In deposits that contain organic matter, ore-stage pyrite is at least as abundant as ore-stage marcasite. Many factors and processes may lead to the formation of either marcasite or pyrite as an ore-stage mineral in roll-type deposits. One of the dominant factors is the complex interrelationship of pH and sulfur species that are precursors of iron-disulfide minerals. Experimental work and study of geochemical environments analogous to those governing the formation of roll-type deposits indicate that relatively low pH (less than about six) and the presence of elemental sulfur favor marcasite, whereas higher pH and the presence of polysulfide ions favor pyrite. Conditions that favor marcasite as the dominant ore-stage iron disulfide are likely to arise during uranium deposition in host rock without fossil vegetal matter. In host rock containing carbonaceous debris, the presence of polysulfide ions and pH buffering any anaerobic bacterial metabolic processes apparently lead to the formation of ore-stage pyrite.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Origin of marcasite and its implications regarding the genesis of roll-front uranium deposits