Preliminary study of radioactive limonite localities in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming

Trace Elements Investigations 427

This report concerns work done on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission



Nine radioactive limonite localities of different types were sampled during the spring and fall of 1953 in an effort to establish criteria for differentiating limonite outcrops associated with uranium or thorium deposits from limonite outcrops not associated with such deposits. The samples were analyzed for uranium and thorium by standard chemical methods, for equivalent uranium by the radiometric method, and for a number of common metals by semiquantitative geochemical methods. Correlation coefficients were then calculated for each of the metals with respect to equivalent uranium, and to uranium where present, for all of the samples from each locality. The correlation coefficients may indicate a significant association between uranium or thorium and certain metals. Occurrences of specific that are interpreted as significant very considerably for different uranium localities but are more consistent for the thorium localities.

Samples taken from radioactive outcrops in the vicinity of uranium or thorium deposits can be quickly analyzed by geochemical methods for various elements. Correlation coefficients can then be determined for the various elements with respect to uranium or thorium; if any significant correlations are obtained, the elements showing such correlation may be indicators of uranium or thorium. Soil samples of covered areas in the vicinity of the radioactive outcrop may then be analyzed for the indicator elements and any resulting anomalies used as a guide for prospecting where the depth of overburden is too great to allow the use of radiation-detecting instruments.

Correlation coefficients of the associated indicator elements, used in conjunction with petrographic evidence, may also be useful in interpreting the origin and paragenesis of radioactive deposits.

Changes in color of limonite stains on the outcrop may also be a useful guide to ore in some areas.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary study of radioactive limonite localities in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming
Series title:
Trace Elements Investigations
Series number:
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U.S. Geological Survey
61 p.
United States