Hydrothermal uranium deposits containing molybdenum and fluorite in the Marysvale volcanic field, west-central Utah

Mineralium Deposita
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Uranium deposits containing molybdenum and fluorite occur in the Central Mining Area, near Marysvale, Utah, and formed in an epithermal vein system that is part of a volcanic/hypabyssal complex. They represent a known, but uncommon, type of deposit; relative to other commonly described volcanic-related uranium deposits, they are young, well-exposed and well-documented. Hydrothermal uranium-bearing quartz and fluorite veins are exposed over a 300 m vertical range in the mines. Molybdenum, as jordisite (amorphous MoS2), together with fluorite and pyrite, increase with depth, and uranium decreases with depth. The veins cut 23-Ma quartz monzonite, 20-Ma granite, and 19-Ma rhyolite ash-flow tuff. The veins formed at 19-18 Ma in a 1 km2 area, above a cupola of a composite, recurrent, magma chamber at least 24 × 5 km across that fed a sequence of 21- to 14-Ma hypabyssal granitic stocks, rhyolite lava flows, ash-flow tuffs, and volcanic domes. Formation of the Central Mining Area began when the intrusion of a rhyolite stock, and related molybdenite-bearing, uranium-rich, glassy rhyolite dikes, lifted the fractured roof above the stock. A breccia pipe formed and relieved magmatic pressures, and as blocks of the fractured roof began to settle back in place, flat-lying, concave-downward, “pull-apart” fractures were formed. Uranium-bearing, quartz and fluorite veins were deposited by a shallow hydrothermal system in the disarticulated carapace. The veins, which filled open spaces along the high-angle fault zones and flat-lying fractures, were deposited within 115 m of the ground surface above the concealed rhyolite stock. Hydrothermal fluids with temperatures near 200 °C, 18OH2O∼−1.5, DH2O∼−130, log f O2 about −47 to −50, and pH about 6 to 7, permeated the fractured rocks; these fluids were rich in fluorine, molybdenum, potassium, and hydrogen sulfide, and contained uranium as fluoride complexes. The hydrothermal fluids reacted with the wallrock resulting in precipitation of uranium minerals. At the deepest exposed levels, wallrocks were altered to sericite; and uraninite, coffinite, jordisite, fluorite, molybdenite, quartz, and pyrite were deposited in the veins. The fluids were progressively oxidized and cooled at higher levels in the system by boiling and degassing; iron-bearing minerals in wall rocks were oxidized to hematite, and quartz, fluorite, minor siderite, and uraninite were deposited in the veins. Near the ground surface, the fluids were acidified by condensation of volatiles and oxidation of hydrogen sulfide in near-surface, steam-heated, ground waters; wall rocks were altered to kaolinite, and quartz, fluorite, and uraninite were deposited in veins. Secondary uranium minerals, hematite, and gypsum formed during supergene alteration later in the Cenozoic when the upper part of the mineralized system was exposed by erosion.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrothermal uranium deposits containing molybdenum and fluorite in the Marysvale volcanic field, west-central Utah
Series title Mineralium Deposita
DOI 10.1007/s001260050164
Volume 33
Issue 5
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher Springer
Description 18 p.
First page 477
Last page 494
Country United States
State Utah
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