Uranium potential of the Burro Canyon Formation in western Colorado

Open-File Report 82-222




The Burro Canyon Formation of Early Cretaceous age overlies the Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic) and underlies the Dakota Sandstone (Late Cretaceous) over most of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. It consists mainly of alternating beds of fluvial sandstone and overbank mudstone with sandstone dominating in the lower part of the formation and mudstone in the upper part. At the outcrop, the sandstones in the formation exhibit almost all the characteristics that are considered favorable for the occurrence of sandstone-type uranium deposits, but only a few small deposits have been discovered in the Colorado-Utah area. The major deficiency of the Burro Canyon in these outcrop areas is the absence of a reductant such as carbonaceous debris, humic or humate materials, or pyrite. Reductants were probably removed during a period of extensive oxidation at the time of deposition and during a subsequent erosional episode prior to deposition of the Dakota Sandstone. The formation reaches a lobate, inexactly located eastern margin that extends from near Meeker, Colorado, southward through the Piceance basin to near Aztec, New Mexico, in the northwestern part of the San Juan Basin. Along much of this distance, the formation is in the subsurface and has been penetrated by only a few drill holes. Along this eastern margin, the lobes project eastward where fluvial distributary streams built minor alluvial fans of relatively high-energy deposits out from the main axis of Burro Canyon stream deposition. The lower and distal reaches of these lobes may have survived the period of post depositional erosion and oxidation in a reduced condition because of low relief and the protection of a high water table. If so, the peripheral and distal parts of these lobes may have retained the precipitants necessary to form a uranium deposit. Two of the lobes extend into the southwest margin of the Piceance Basin and are considered the possible location of uranium deposits. Two additional lobes extend into the northwestern part of the San Juan Basin but have not been evaluated in this study.

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Uranium potential of the Burro Canyon Formation in western Colorado
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
27 p., 4 over-size sheets, maps ;28 cm.