Ore in the La Sal mine, San Juan County, Utah, occurs as a typical tabular-type uranium deposit of the-Colorado Plateau. Uranium-vanadium occurs in the Salt Wash Member of the Jurassic Morrison Formation.
Chemical and petrographic analyses were used to determine elemental variation and diagenetic aspects across the orebody. Vanadium is concentrated in the dark clay matrix, which constitutes visible ore. Uranium content is greater above the vanadium zone. Calcium, carbonate carbon, and lead show greater than fifty-fold increase across the ore zone, whereas copper and organic carbon show only a several-fold increase. Large molybdenum concentrations are present in and above the tabular layer, and large selenium concentrations occur below the uranium zone within the richest vanadium zone. Iron is enriched in the vanadium horizon. Chromium is depleted from above the ore and strongly enriched below. Elements that vary directly with the vanadium content include magnesium, iron, selenium, zirconium, strontium, titanium, lead, boron, yttrium, and scandium.
The diagenetic sequence is as follows: (1) formation of secondary quartz overgrowths as cement; (2) infilling and lining of remaining pores with amber opaline material; (3) formation of vanadium-rich clay matrix, which has replaced overgrowths as well as quartz grains; (4) replacement of overgrowths and detrital grains by calcite; (5) infilling of pores with barite and the introduction of pyrite and marcasite.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary investigation of the elemental variation and diagenesis of a tabular uranium deposit, La Sal Mine, San Juan County, Utah