Geology and origin of the Death Valley uranium deposit, Seward Peninsula, Alaska

Economic Geology
By: , and 



A uranium deposit discovered in 1977 in western Alaska, by means of airborne radiometric data, is the largest known in Alaska on the basis of industry reserve estimates. At about latitude 65 degrees N, it is the most northerly known sandstone-type uranium deposit in the world. The deposit lies in Eocene continental sandstone near the eastern end of the Seward Peninsula, in the southern end of a graben that extends northward into the Death Valley depositional basin.The deposit is apparently of epigenetic and supergene origin. The uranium was derived from the Cretaceous granite of the Darby pluton that forms part of the western side of Death Valley. Uranium from primary mineralization is in the subsurface in a marginal facies of the Tertiary sedimentary basin where nearshore coarse clastic rocks are interbedded with coal and lacustrine clay. Primary mineralization occurred when uranium-bearing oxidizing ground water moved downdip from the pluton eastward through transmissive clastic beds or on the surface. Uranium was deposited where the coal or other carbonaceous material produced a reducing environment in arkosic host rocks. The supergene enrichment is related to a soil horizon at the present ground surface. The most common uranium mineral is meta-autunite, but cofflnite has been identified in the primary deposits. The host rocks for the primary deposits were partly covered by basalt flows that issued from nearby vents. Some of the basalt is highly altered, and some basalt float from the supergene zone has alteration rinds that are enriched in uranium.Extensive exploratory drilling took place from 1979 to 1981. The average grade of the potential ore is 0.27 percent U 3 O 8 and the average thickness is 3 m. The calculated reserves are 1,000,000 lbs U 3 O 8 ; additional drilling would probably add to this figure.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geology and origin of the Death Valley uranium deposit, Seward Peninsula, Alaska
Series title Economic Geology
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.82.6.1558
Volume 82
Issue 6
Year Published 1987
Language English
Publisher Society of Economic Geologists
Description 17 p.
First page 1558
Last page 1574
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Seward Peninsula
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