Wet Mountains, Colorado, thorium investigations, 1952-1954

Trace Elements Investigations 354
This report concerns work done on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials of the U.S. Atomic energy Commission
By: , and 



A 22-square mile tract (McKinley Mountain Area) of pre-Cambrian rocks and veins containing thorium was mapped at the scale of 1:6,000. This tract lies on the west flank of the Wet Mountains, Custer and Fremont Counties, northeast of Westcliffe, Colo.

The bedrock is a complexly interlayered sequence of gneisses of metasedimetary origin, migmatite and granitic gneisses that have been transected by an albite syenite stock and numerous northwest-trending dikes, veins, and fractures. Hornblende-plagioclase and biotite-quartz-plagioclase gneisses are the principal metasedimentary rocks; pyroxene-scapolite, garnet, sillimanite, and quartzite zones are locally present. The most prominent rock is a poorly foliated, microcline, alaskitic granite gneiss which occurs as layers ranging from more than 500 feet in thickness down to migmatitic “lit-par-lit” type of injections less than an inch thick. Of less wide distribution, but of similar occurrence, are quartz monzonite and leuco-granodiorite gneisses. Although the foliation of the rocks generally is steep and trends northeast over most of the area, several northeast-trending folds have been mapped in the northern half of the area; a vertically plunging fold occurs in the southwest. The albite syenite is nonfoliated and is about 595 million years old (late pre-Cambrian) by the Larsen zircon method of age determination. Many of the dikes are related to the stock.

More than 800 radioactive occurrences were found along the northwest-trending veins. Almost all the radioactivity is due to thorium which in its purest form occurs as a hydrated thorite-like mineral. The veins also contain carbonate minerals, barite, quartz, red and yellow iron oxides, and minor sulfides; no genetic relation of these minerals to the thorium has been established. Although most of the deposits are only weakly radioactive, richer concentrations are scattered as pockets and lenses along the veins.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Wet Mountains, Colorado, thorium investigations, 1952-1954
Series title Trace Elements Investigations
Series number 354
DOI 10.3133/tei354
Edition -
Year Published 1954
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description Report: 52 p.; Plate 2-1: 31.34 x 83.42 inches; Plate 2-2: 37.09 x 84.62 inches; Plate 3-1: 33.49 x 84.96 inches; Plate 3-2: 36.77 x 83.32 inches
Country United States
State Colorado
County Fremont County;Custer County
Other Geospatial Wet Mountains
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