Preliminary report on the White Canyon area, San Juan county, Utah

Trace Elements Memorandum 325

This report concerns work done on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
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The White Canyon area, in the central part of San Juan County, Utah, consists of approximately two 15-minute quadrangles. Approximately 75 square miles have been mapped by the Geological Survey on a scale of 1 inch equals 1 mile, using a combined aerial photography-plane table method. Structure contours were drawn on top of the Organ Rock member of the Cutler formation. Parts of the Gonway and North Point claims, 1/4 mile east of the Happy Jack mine, were mapped in detail. The principal objectives of the investigations were: (1) to establish ore guides; (2) to select areas favorable for exploration; and (3) to map the general geology and to determine the regional relationships of the uranium deposits. The White Canyon area is comprised of sedimentary rocks of Carboniferous to Jurassic age, more than 2,000 feet thick, having a regional dip of 1° to 2° SW. The nearest igneous rocks are in the Henry Mountains about 7 miles west of the northern part of the area; The Shinarump conglomerate of the late Triassic age, the principal ore horizon in the White Canyon area, consists of lenticular beds of sandstone, conglomeratic sandstone, conglomerate, clay, and siltstone. The Shinarump conglomerate, absent in places, is as much as 75 feet thick. The sandstones locally contain molds of logs and fragments of altered volcanic ash. Some of the logs have been replaced by copper and uranium minerals and iron oxides. The clay and siltstone underlie and are interbedded with the sandstone, and are most common in channels that cut into the underlying Moenkopi formation. The Shinarump conglomerate contains reworked Moenkopi siltstone fragments, clay balls, carbonized wood, and pebbles of quarts, quartzite, and chert. Jointing is prominent in the Western part of the mapped area. The three most prominent joint trends are due east, N. 65°-75° W., and N. 65°-75° E. All joints have vertical dips. The red beds are bleached along some joints, especially those that trend N. 65°-75° W. All uranium ore produced has been from the lower part of the Shinarump conglomerate, where it commonly occurs with copper as disseminations and fracture coatings in sandstone. Uranium and copper minerals also occur in low-grade disseminated deposits in the lower Chinle and in the Moenkopi formation and in veins cutting these formations. Although some uranium deposits occur in Chinarump channels and scours, copper and uranium minerals along fractures suggest that channel control may be secondary. Logs and clay balls apparently have exerted some chemical influences for deposition. The uranium occurs as the oxide in some deposits, and as secondary hydrous sulfates, phosphates, oxides, and silicates in these and several other deposits. Charcoal, iron and manganese oxides, and veinlets of hydrocarbon are abnormally radioactive in most of the deposits. Base-metal sulfides are commonly found inside the oxidized zone. Secondary copper minerals include the hydrous sulfates and carbonate. Gangue minerals include quarts, clay minerals, and manganese oxides, dickite (?), calcite, gypsum, pyrite, and chalcedony (?). Principal wall-rock alteration appears to have been silicification, clay alteration, and bleaching. Most of the shipped ore has contained more than 0.3 percent uranium. The ore also contains copper, commonly in grades lower than 1.0 percent. Criteria believed to be most useful for prospecting for concealed uranium deposits are (1) visible uranium minerals; (2) sulfide minerals; (3) secondary copper minerals; (4) dickite (?); (5) hydrocarbons; and (6) bleaching and alteration of the Moenkopi formation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary report on the White Canyon area, San Juan county, Utah
Series title:
Trace Elements Memorandum
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: 27 p.; 2 Plates: 20.77 x 16.37 inches and 26.04 x 30.11 inches
United States
San Juan County
Other Geospatial:
White Canyon
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