As a part of the Geological Survey‘s program of investigating uranium-bearing carbonaceous rocks on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a reconnaissance of the Sharon Springs member of the Pierre shale in western Kansas and eastern Colorado was conducted during 1954.
The Sharon Springs member of the Pierre shale and its lateral equivalents ranges from 155 to about 500 feet in thickness and generally contains about 0.001 percent uranium, but some beds contain larger amounts. A 6-foot thick shale bed in Cheyenne County, Colo., contains about 0.006 percent uranium, a 4 1/2-foot thick sequence of beds in Crowley County, Colo., is estimated to contain between 0.004 and 0.005 percent uranium, and a 3 1/2-foot thick sequence of beds in Kiowa County, Colo., contains about 0.004 percent uranium. At several outcrop localities, sequences of beds as much as 9 1/2 feet thick contain about 0.003 percent uranium. Data from wells indicate that the 4 1/2-foot thick sequence of beds in Crowley County, Colo., may have a lateral extent of at least 5 1/2 miles. A gamma-ray log of a well in Yuma County, Colo., indicates the presence of a sequence of beds 66 feet thick which contains 0.005 to 0.010 percent equivalent uranium.
No definite pattern of areal distribution of radioactivity and uranium content in the Sharon Springs is indicated by available data. Lateral variation in uranium content of individual beds was not noted in outcrops, which seldom extend more than 150 feet, but subsurface data from gamma-ray logs of wells indicate that both the maximum radioactivity and the thickness of radioactive beds are variable within distances of a few miles. Vertical variation in radioactivity and uranium content of the more radioactive beds is usually abrupt, but in the rocks as a whole the range of uranium content is so small that large variations in content are absent.
In most of the gamma-ray logs examined there is only part of the sequence of rocks comprising the Pierre shale and Niobrara formation that exhibits radioactivity in excess of the average radioactivity of the two formations. Comparison of features of gamma-ray logs of wells in north-eastern Colorado suggests that the most radioactive part referred to above is a laterally correlatable sequence of beds.
The stratigraphic position of the radioactive unit relative to the Pierre shale-Niobrara formation contact in oil industry scout reports, as identified from electric logs and wells, is variable within short distances. This may indicate that some of the Pierre-Niobrara contacts picked from electric logs may not correspond to the boundary that would be selected by examination of the rocks themselves, or may indicate that there is a facies relationship between teh lowermost part of the Pierre shale and the uppermost part of the Niobrara formation.