Closely spaced measured stratigraphic sections of the lower part of the Late Triassic Chinle Formation in the White Canyon area of southeastern Utah depict a fluvial-deltaic-lacustrine depositional sequence that hosts uranium deposits in basal fluvial sandstones. The basal Shinarump Member consists of predominantly trough-crossbedded, coarse-grained sandstone and minor gray, carbonaceous mudstone and is interpreted as a valley-fill sequence overlain by deposits of a braided stream system. The overlying Monitor Butte Member is composed of cyclic- and foreset-bedded siltstone, sandstone, and mudstone and is interpreted as a succession of low-energy fluvial, deltaic and orqanicrich, lacustrine-marsh sediments. The overlying Moss Back Member is composed of a laterally extensive, coarse- to medium-grained, conglomeratic sandstone and is interpreted as a braided-stream system that flowed north to northwest. The entire sequence was deposited in response to changes in local base level associated with a large lake that lay to the west.
Isopachs of lithofacies indicate distinct lacustrine basins and a correspondence between these facies and modern structural synclines. Facies changes and coincidence of isopach thicks suggest that structural synclines were active in the Late Triassic and influenced the pattern of sediment distribution within the basins. Uranium mineralization appears to be related to certain low-energy depositional environments in that uranium is localized in fluvial sandstones that lie beneath organic-rich lacustrine-marsh mudstones and carbonaceous delta-front sediments. The reducing environment preserved in these facies may have played an important role in the localization of uranium.
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Sedimentology of the lower part of the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation and its relationship to uranium deposits, White Canyon area, southeastern Utah