Stratigraphic sections of the Phosphoria formation in Idaho, 1947-48, Part I

Trace Elements Investigations 183

This report concerns work done on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
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DOI: 10.3133/tei183



The Permian Phosphoria formation of the western states contains one of the world's largest reserves of phosphate. Although previous investigations (see especially Mansfield, 1927), including reconnaissance geologic mapping and sampling, established the location of most of the important deposits and their quality of scattered localities, they were not sufficiently detailed to permit a comparison of the merits of individual deposits or an appraisal of the reserves of phosphate rock that might be available under present economic conditions. Because the growing importance of the western phosphate deposits requires a better, more detailed understanding of their distribution and quality, the Geological Survey began in 1947 a comprehensive investigation, including (1) reconnaissance geologic mapping, mostly in Montana, of areas in which the Phosphoria formation could occur but where it had not previously been looked for or found; (2) geologic mapping, mostly in Montana, at a scale no smaller than 1:62,500, of several areas known to contain the Phosphoria formation but not previously mapped except in reconnaissance fashion; (3) geologic and topographic mapping, at a scale of 1:12,000, of some of the richest, thickest, and most accessible deposits; (4) measuring, describing, and sampling all beds of the phosphatic and shaly parts, and in some places the full thickness, of the Phosphoria formation and its stratigraphic equivalents at one or two localities per township over the entire field; (5) chemical and spectrographic analysis of the samples for phosphate, fluorine, minor metals, oil, and rock-forming constituents; and (6) petrologic and geochemical studies of the rocks and minerals of the formation.

These studies are designed to define the regional and local geologic structures in which the phosphate bed lie, to provide a basis for the estimation of reserves of the inferred class over the entire region, and to determine the origin of the rocks and the elements contained in them. The data collected are not of the detail required to plan actual mining operations, but it is hoped they will guide industry in the selection of individual deposits worthy of further exploration.

Most of the field work contemplated as a part of this investigation is now completed. Although the data will not be compiled or published in final form for some years to come, segments of the data, accompanied by little or no interpretation, will be published as preliminary maps or reports as they are assembled. The present report is the first of a series presenting in abbreviated form the description and analyses of the beds measured and sampled at various localities in southeastern Idaho (pl. 1). Companion reports presenting segments of the data from Montana, Wyoming, and Utah (Swanson and others, 1952, and McKelvey and others, 1952a and 1952b) are being released at the same time as this report, and others are in preparation.

Study Area

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USGS Numbered Series
Stratigraphic sections of the Phosphoria formation in Idaho, 1947-48, Part I
Series title:
Trace Elements Investigations
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U.S. Geological Survey
53 p.
United States