Description and quantification of the nonopaque, detrital heavy mineralogy of the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation in the southwestern part of the San Juan Basin have helped to identify stratigraphic trends, source-area lithologies, and zones of post-depositional alteration possibly related to uranium mineralization. A synthesis of stratigraphic variations in mineral species and diversity in Morrison sandstones reveals an increasing upward igneous component, characterized by euhedral zircon and subhedral apatite. Complementing this trend, the predominantly well-rounded assemblage of the Recapture Member changes to a mixed assemblage of rounded and angular grains in the Westwater Canyon Member. Overall, the low diversity in mineral species indicates a sedimentary, low- to medium-grade-metamorphic, and acid igneous parentage for Morrison sediments; however, post-depositional processes have played a significant role in determining the present mineralogy.
The roles that diagenesis and weathering have played in determining the present aspect of the assemblage, which is a mature garnet-zircon-apatite-tourmaline suite, cannot be overemphasized. For instance, the presence of authigenically etched to skeletal garnet and staurolite implies that entire grains have been destroyed. Comparison of cores with measured sections indicates that near-surface weathering has caused the destruction of some minerals, notably apatite, sensitive to acidic conditions. Therefore, in order to interpret the sedimentology, stratigraphic intervals in which post-depositional processes have affected the mineralogy were identified. These diagenetic zones may prove to be most useful in delineating the past movements and compositions of interstitial, possibly ore-forming, fluids.
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The nonopaque, detrital heavy mineralogy of the Morrison Formation near Crownpoint, San Juan Basin, New Mexico