The Virgin Valley opal district, Humboldt County, Nevada, is near the Oregon-Nevada border in the Sheldon Game Refuge. Nineteen claims owned by Jack and Toni Crane were examined, sampled, and tested radiometrically for uranium. Numerous discontinuous layers of opal are interbedded with a gently-dipping series of vitric tuff and ash which is at least 300 ft thick. The tuff and ash are capped by a dark, vesicular basalt in the eastern part of the area and by a thin layer of terrace qravels in the area along the west side of Virgin Valley. Silicification of the ash and tuff has produced a rock that ranges from partly opalized rock that resembles silicified shale to completely altered rock that is entirely translucent, and consists of massive, brown and pale-green opal. Carnotite, the only identified uranium mineral, occurs as fracture coatings or fine layers in the opal; in places, no uranium minerals are visible in the radioactive opal. The opal layers are irregular in extent and thickness. The exposed length of the layers ranges from 8 to 1, 200 ft or more, and the thickness of the layers ranges from 0. 1 to 3. 9 ft. The uranium content of each opal layer, and of different parts of the same layer, differs widely. On the east side of Virgin Valley four of the seven observed opal layers, nos. 3, 4, 5, and 7, are more radioactive than the average; and the uranium content ranges from 0. 002 to 0. 12 percent. Two samples, taken 5 ft apart across opal layer no. 7, contained 0. 003 and 0. -049 percent uranium. On the west side of the valley only four of the fifteen observed opal layers, nos; 9, , 10, 14, and 15, are more radioactive than the average; and the uranium content ranges from 0. 004 to 0. 047 percent. Material of the highest grade was found in a small discontinuous layer of pale-green opal (no. 4) on the east side of Virgin Valley. The grade of this layer ranged from 0. 027 to 0. 12 percent uranium.
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Virgin Valley opal district, Humboldt County, Nevada