Uraniferous Holocene sediments occur in the Carson Range of Nevada and California, U.S.A., between Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley. The hosts for the uranium include peat and interbedded organic-rich sand, silt, and mud that underly valley floors, fens, and marshes along stream valleys between the crest of the range and the edge of Lake Tahoe. The known uranium accumulations extend along the Carson Range from the area just southeast of South Lake Tahoe northward to the area just east of Carson City; however, they almost certainly continue beyond the study area to the north, west, and south. Due to the young age of the accumulations, uranium in them is in gross disequilibrium with its highly radioactive daughter products. These accumulations have thus escaped discovery with radiation detection equipment in the past. The uranium content of these sediments approaches 0.6 percent; however, the average is in the range of 300-500 ppm. Waters associated with these sediments locally contain as much as 177 ppb uranium. Modest levels of helium and radon also occur in these waters. Uraniferous waters are clearly entering the private and public water supply systems in some parts of the study area; however, it is not known how much uranium is reaching users of these water supplies. Many of the waters sampled in the study area exceed the published health effects guidance level of the Environmental Protection Agency. Regulatory standards for uranium in waters have not been published, however. Much uranium is stored in the sediments along these stream valleys. Estimates for a marsh and a fen along one drainage are 24,000 and 15,000 kg, respectively. The potential effects of man-induced environmental changes on the uranium are uncertain. Laboratory studies of uraniferous sediment rich in organic matter may allow us to evaluate the potential of liberating uranium from such sediments and creating transient increases in the level of uranium moving in water in the natural environment. ?? 1989 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
Additional publication details
Uranium in Holocene valley-fill sediments, and uranium, radon, and helium in waters, Lake Tahoe-Carson Range area, Nevada and California, U.S.A.