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Economic Geology

Vol. 54, 1959, pp. 666-682

RELATIONSHIP OF CARBONATE CEMENT TO LITHOLOGY


AND VANADIUM-URANIUM DEPOSITS IN THE MORRISON
FORMATION IN SOUTHWESTERN COLORADO

N. L. ARCHBOLD

CONTENTS

Abstract ............................................................. 666


Introduction .......................................................... 667
The Morrison formation ............................................... 667
Methodof investigation................................................ 669
Sourceof samples.................................................. 671
Methodsof analysisfor carbonate.................................... 671
Results ............................................................... 674
Carbonate
contentof principalrocktypesof the Salt Washmember...... 674
Carbonate and vanadium-uranium content ............................ 679
Carbonate distribution relative to mineralized sandstone ................ 679
Summary and conclusions.............................................. 682
References ........................................................... 682

ABSTRACT

Carbonate content was determinedfor 888 samplesfrom the Salt


Wash member of the Morrison formation in the Slick Rock and Uravan
mining districts in southwesternColorado. The carbonate content of
mostsampleswas determinedsemiquantitatively by calculatingthe amount
of calcite equivalent to the mass of carbon dioxide evolved when the
sampleswere treated with 3 normal hydrochloricacid. The contentof
somesampleswas determinedin the courseof standardchemicalassays
and the content of others was visually estimated.
Sampleswere assignedto categoriesor "rock types" on the basis of
grosslithology,vanadium-uraniumcontent,degreeof epigeneticalteration,
and degreeof oxidation through weathering. The average carbonatecon-
tent was determinedfor each rock type, and the distributionof carbonate
around oxidized and unoxidized ore was investigated.
Results indicate that sandstonein the uppermost (ore-bearing) part
of the Salt Wash membercontains2.5 to 3.0 percentcarbonate,whereas
sandstonein the lower (generally barren) part of the Salt Wash member
contains about 13 percent carbonate. Altered mudstonein the Salt Wash
member containsabout 4 percent carbonate,and unalteredmudstoneabout
7 percent.
Carbonate-rich zones in sandstoneadjacent to contactswith mudstone
may be of syngeneticor early diageneticorigin, whereas carbonate-rich
zones associatedwith ore bodiesmay be geneticallyrelated to the ore
deposits.
Where the sandstonehas been subjectedto weathering, the overall
distributionof carbonatedoesnot seemto have been greatly affected.
Publication authorized by the Director, U.S. Geological Survey.

666
CARBONATE CEMENT AND F'ANADIUM-URANIUM 667

I NTRODUCTIO N

VANADIUM-URANIUM depositsin sandstoneon the ColoradoPlateau are now


generallythoughtto havehad an epigeneticorigin,thoughthere is no agree-
mentas to the specificnatureof the mineralizingprocess. Regardlessof the
nature of the epigeneticmineralizingprocess,it may have had an effectupon
distributionof carbonatecementin the host sandstone, or the processitself
may have beeninfluencedby the originaldistributionof carbonatecement.
The presentstudy was undertakento determinehow carbonatecementis
distributed in the Salt Wash member of the Morrison formation and if this
distributionshowsany relationto vanadium-uranium
depositsin the Salt
Wash.
This work was done by the U.S. GeologicalSurvey on behalf of the
Divisionof Raw Materialsof the U.S. AtomicEnergyCommission.
TI-IE MORRISON FORMATION

The Morrisonformationof Late Jurassicageis widelydistributedin the


WesternInterior of the United States. Regionalcharacteristics
and differ-
enceshavebeendescribed by Craigandothers(1). This paperis concerned
with areas in southwestern Colorado where the Morrison formation is divided
into two members, the BrushyBasinmemberandthe underlyingSalt Wash
member. The BrushyBasinmemberrangesfrom about300 to 700 feet in
thickness,and is composedof varicoloredbentoniticmudstonewith minor
interbeddedlensesof conglomerateand sandstone
whichare more abundant
near the base of the member.
In the areascoveredby this report,the Salt Wash memberof the Mor-
risonformationrangesfrom about275 to 450 feet in thicknessand is com-
posedof mudstonewith interbeddedlensesof quartzosesandstone.The
mudstone
is dominantly
reddishbrownandthesandstone
is lightredto light
gray or buff. Most of the carbonatewithin the sandstoneoccursas cement-
ing material.
The Salt Wash membercan be dividedroughlyinto three parts. At
the top and bottomof the Salt Wash member,lensesof sandstone coalesce
and form fairly continuouslayers of sandstonethat containnumerousthin
layersof mudstone.The centralpart of the Salt Washmemberis composed
dominantlyof mudstonecontainingscattered,unconnected lensesof sand-
stone. The threepartsof the Salt Wash memberinterfingerand are more
evidentwhenviewedon a broadscale. Most of the significant vanadium-
uraniumdepositsin the Morrisonformationoccurin the top sandstone
layer
of theSaltWashmember,
whichis commonly
referredto asthe"ore-bearing
sandstone."
In the vicinityof vanadium-uraniumdeposits,
the normallylight-redto
red-brown sandstone andmudstoneare lightgrayto brownandgraygreen
to yellowbrown,respectively.The light-gray,brown,andgray-green colors
resulted primarilyfromepigenetic
bleachingof originally
redsediments (3),
thoughlocally,wheresandstone containsabundant carbonaceous
material,the
bleaching mayhavebeentheresultof diagenetic aswellasepigenetic proc-
668 N.L. ARCHBOLD

TABLE 1. PRINCn'AL ROCK TYP-S IN ?HE SALT WXS MF-MB-R OF T- MOrriSON


FOP.XTIO dVD T-m CttaXxCT-SC CO.ORS

Rock type Unoxidized Oxidized

Mineralized sandstone Gray to black Gray to black with


various amounts of
yellow, red, or green
Barren sandstone

Unaltered Light red to Light red to brownish


brownish red red
Altered Light gray Yellow brown to buff.
Commonly with
brown speckling
Mudstone

Unaltered Brownish red Brownish red


Altered Gray green Gray green with minor
yellow brown
All mineralized sandstone is altered.

esses. In this study, all rocksthat are shadesof gray, green, or brown are
consideredto have been epigeneticallybleached. In the subsequentdiscus-
sion, these bleachedrocks will be referred to as "altered" rocks. The un-
bleachedrocks,which are shadesof red, will be referred to as "unaltered."
Partial oxidation of the rocks has occurred where the Salt Wash member
has beenexposedto atmosphericconditions. This partial oxidationis indi-
cated by the formation of limonite from pyrite, the formation of secondary
uranium minerals, and the destruction of small amounts of carbonaceous
material. In this paper, the term "oxidized" will be used to indicate rocks
which, after their formation,have been subjectedto the oxidizing environ-
ment of the atmosphere, but have not necessarily
beenoxidizedso completely
that all elementsare in their highestvalencestate. Accordingto this usage,
rocksclassedas oxidizedmay showa wide rangein actualover-alloxidation
state, as the term "oxidized" appliesonly to the epigenetichistory of the
rock, not to the over-all oxidation state.
It is necessaryto distinguishbetween altered, unaltered, oxidized, and
unoxidized samples,becausealteration and oxidation, as here defined, may
have caused significant changes in the distribution of carbonate cement.
Color is a good indicationof the relative degreeof alterationand oxidation.
Unaltered rocksare light red to brownishred, and becausetheir components
were originallydepositedin a high state of oxidation,they undergono color
changewhen subjectedto the oxidizing conditionsof weathering. Despite
the fact that unaltered rocks may have undergoneno appreciableover-all
oxidation during weathering,the weatheredand unweatheredvarieties will
be referred to as "oxidized" and "unoxidized" to maintain a consistent ter-
minology. Altered unoxidized rocks are light gray to gray green. Upon
oxidation, altered mudstonemay becomeyellow brown, but more commonly
it maintainsa gray-greencolor. Altered sandstone,when oxidized, is yellow
brownand commonlyhasa brown speckling. Unoxidizedvanadium-uranium
minerals are black; oxidized minerals are shadesof yellow, red, or orange.
The rocksof the Salt Wash membercan be dividedinto categorieson the
basis of particle size, vanadium-uraniumcontent,alteration, and oxidation.
CARBONATE CEMENT AND VANADIUM-URANIUM 669

These categorieswill be calledthe "principalrock types" of the Salt Wash


member. For clarification,these rock types and their characteristiccolors
are listed in Table 1.

iIETHOD OF INVESTIGATION

Sampleswere collectedfrom mine workings and diamond-drillcores so


that their spatialpositionrelativeto lithologiccontactsand mineralizedzones
was known. Samplescollectedfrom outcropsor associatedwith oxidized
ore mineralswere consideredto be oxidized,whereassamplescollectedfrom
deep drill holes, well below the present water table, or samplesassociated
with unoxidized ore-minerals, were consideredto be unoxidized.
Quantitativedata on the carbonatecontentof each samplewas obtained
by one of three methods. Chemicalassaysof 162 sampleswere made for
vanadium oxide, uranium oxide, and calcium carbonate. A rapid, semi-
quantitativemethodof analysiswas adaptedand usedby the authorto obtain
data on 467 samples. Finally, estimateswere madeof the carbonatecontent
in 259 samples. Eachanalyticalmethodis described
in a followingsection.

GRANO
JUNCTION

000'.q,?
'
oTHOMPSON

GRAND

MESA I
COUNTY COUNTY

I
CYCLE

MONTROSE
COUNTY

GAN JUAN
COUNTY

NATURITA

ROCK GAN MIGUEL


AREA COVEREO COUNTY
BY FIGURE 2

GROUP

MONTI CELLO
o

SCALE OF MILEG
ov%
CREK
DOLOREG
COUNTY

FI. 1, Index map of part of ColoradoPlateau showing localitiesreferred


to in text.
670 N. L. ARCHBOLD
CARBONA TE CEMENT AND VANADIUM- URANIUM 671

Sourceof Samples.--Mostof the samplesfor this study are from the


Disappointment Valley area of the Slick Rock mining district, San Miguel
County, Colo. (Figs. 1, 2), where sampleswere collectedfrom mines in
oxidized ore depositsand from drill coresin both oxidized and unoxidized
rocks. In the Uravan mining district, MontroseCounty, Colo., 132 unox-
idizedsampleswere collectedfrom the Virgin and GoldenCyclemines(Fig.
1). Table 2 showsthe numberof samplescollectedfrom eachlocalityand
rocktype,aswell asthenumbertreatedby eachof the threeanalyticalmethods.
TABLE 2

NUMBER OF SAMPLES COLLECTED, SHOWING SAMPLE LOCALITY,


TYPE OF SAMPLE, AND METHOD OF ANALYSIS

Method of carbonate
Number of samples determination
Sample locality Rock type
Rapid Chemical Estima-
--
Unoxid-
ized Oxidized
method
assaytion
Slick Rock district
Disappointment Alteredbarrenas 238 -- 238 -- --
Valley area Unaltered barren ss 47 -- 47 -- --
Altered mudstone 47 -- 47 -- --
Unaltered mudstone 47 -- 47
Mineralized ss 58 -- __ 58 --
Upper Group mines Mineralized ss -- 104 -- 104 --
Cougar mine Mineralized ss -- 33 16 -- 17
Altered barren ss -- 175 72 -- 103
Altered mudstone -- 7 -- -- 7
Uravan district
Golden Cycle mine Mineralized ss 12 -- -- -- 12
Altered barren ss 44 -- -- -- 44
Virgin mine Mineralized ss 32 -- -- 32
Altered barren ss 44 -- -- -- 44

Totals 569 319 467 162 259

Total number of samples =888


l Assays made by C. G. Angelo, G. W. Boyes, Jr., R. F. Dufour, Mary Finch, S. P. Furman,
R. G. Havens, C. A. Horr, H. H. Lipp, E. C. Mallory, J. Meadows, T. Miller, J. W. Patton,
L. F. Rader, D. L. Shafer, J.P. Schuch, D. L. Skinner, D. L. Stockwell, James Wahlberg, and
J. E. Wilson, U.S. Geological Survey.

Methods of Analysisfor Carbonate.--A rapid semiquantitative method


for carbonateanalysiswasusedto analyze467 samples. The method,adapted
from that describedby ScottandJewell(2), consisted of calculating
the mass
of carbondioxideliberatedwhena rock sampleof knownweightwas treated
with hydrochloric acid. Analysiswascarriedout in threesteps:first, a 100
ml. beakercontaining10 ml. of 3 normal hydrochloricacid was weighed;
then a weighedsampleof crushedrock (3 to 5 grams) was placedin the acid,
and the resultingreactionwas allowed to proceeduntil all effervescence
stopped;finally,the beakercontainingthe acid solutionand rock residuewas
reweighedand the massof evolvedcarbondioxidewas calculated. The mass
of calciumcarbonate,and the total percentageof carbonate(calculatedas cal-
cium carbonate)in the rock samplewas determined.
672 N. L. ARCHBOLD

Inaccuraciesmay have resultedfrom 1) evaporationof acid or loss due


to splattering,2) absorptionof carbondioxideby the acid solution,3) ma-
terials in the rock sample,other than calciumcarbonate,which may have
reactedwith the acid,and 4) carbonatesthat did not reactwith the acid solu-
tion. The first two sourcesof error were reducedby rapid work, careful
addition of the crushedrock to the acid, and use of a volume of acid not too
much in excessof that neededto react completelywith the sample. All
carbonatewas calculatedas calcite, althoughlocally carbonatesin the Salt
Wash memberare dolomitic,sideritic,or ankeritic. Errors in absoluteper-
centageof carbonatehave probablyresulted,but theseerrors are believedto
be smalland the effecton relativeamountsof carbonatein samplesfrom the
samelocality is probablynegligibleunlessamountsof magnesium,iron, and
manganesehave a wide range in different rock types in the same area.
TABLE 3

CARBONATE CONTENT DETERMINED BY USING RAPID ANALYTICAL


METHOD ON PREPARED STANDARDS

percent carbonate Percent carbonate by rapid


Actual(as
CaCO,) analytical
method
0.0 0.2
0.0 0.5
1.1 1.2
2.3 2.3
4.6 4.6
5.8 5.9
7.4 7.6
8.4 8.4
8.6 8.1
10.8 9.7
14.5 14.0
15.1 14.1
21.1 20.2
33.9 34.6
100.0 102.0
100.0 102.9

Carbonates thatcontainappreciable amountsof iron,manganese, or magnesium


react slowly with the acid and loss of weight through exaporationcauses
errors so large that the methodcannotbe used. All samplesfrom the Dis-
appointmentValley area reactedquite readily with the acid and the carbonate
is probablylargelycalcite. Table 3 showsthe accuracyof this methodwhen
usedon standardspreparedby mixing known amountsof powderedcalcite
and acid-washed sand. Where natural rather than artificialsamplesare used
the errors are no doubt slightly larger, but the methodseemsadequatefor
semiquantitative work and has the advantagethat analysescan be made quite
cheaplyand rapidly.
Standard chemicalassaysfor uranium oxide, vanadium oxide, and cal-
cium carbonatewere madeby analystsof the U.S. GeologicalSurvey. An
aceticacid leachingprocesswas used to determinepercentages of calcium
carbonate. Where it has been possible to compare these determinations
with those made using the rapid analytical method, the two are in close
agreement.
CARBONATE CEMENT AND VANADIUM-URANIUM 673

Carbonatecontentsof somesamplesfrom the Cougar mine (Slick Rock


district) and all samplesfrom the Uravan districtwere estimated. Samples
from the GoldenCycleand Virgin minesin the Uravan districtreactedslowly
with the acid solutionand for this reasonthe rapid analyticalmethodcould
not be used. Estimateswere made by treatingthe sampleswith dilute

47 SAMPLES 47 S,MPLES

GEOMETRIC
MEAN= ?.P. GEOMETRIC
MEAN=_4.1

N --

PERCENT CARBONATE P;RCENT CARBONATE

(A) UNALTERED MUDSTONE (B) ALTERED MUDSTONE

238 SAMPLES

GEOMETRIC MEAN =2.5


.j 8o_1SAMPLES
=2.5 I00'
GEOMETRIC
MEAN J

,. I0-
0
50-

I I I I I

PERCENT CARGONATE RCENT CARBONATE

(C) UNALTERED SANDSTONE (D) ALTERED SANDSTONE

FIG. 3 Comparisonof carbonatecontentin barren unoxidizedrocks of the


Salt Wash member of the Morrison formation.

hydrochloric
acidthenclassifying
thesamples
ascontaining
none,trace,sparse,
moderate,or abundantcarbonateby the degreeof effervescence.To evaluate
the carbonatepercentages
in eachof thesecategories, the estimatedcontent
for somesamples
wascompared
with thecontentdetermined
usingthe rapid
analyticalmethod. Those samplesestimatedto containa "trace" of carbonate
contained 0.5 percentor less,"sparse"from 0.5 to 1.5 percent,"moderate"
from 1.5 to 5.0 percent,and "abundant" morethan 5.0 percentcarbonate.
674 N.L. ARCHBOLD

The percentagesgiven apply only to samplesfrom the Slick Rock district.


Actual percentageswere not determined for samplesfrom the Uravan dis-
trict becausethey reactedtoo slowly with the acid, probablybecausethey
containappreciableamountsof magnesium.

104 SAMPLES

GEOMETRIC MEAN

2.0--[ 58 SAMPLES

I GEoMETR'c
'MEAN
=-$
o IO--

I I I I I I I I I I ! I I I I I I I I I I I

d - d -
PEROENTARGONATE PEROENTCARBONATE

OXIDIZED UNOXIDIZED

FiG. 4. Carbonate content in mineralized sandstone of the Salt Wash


member of the Morrison formation.

For the purposesof comparinggroupsof analyses,the geometricmean


hasbeenusedas the measureof centraltendencybecausethis measuremini-
mizes the effect of a few abnormally low or high individual determinations
and givesa truer averagefor each group.

RESULTS

CarbonateContentof PrincipalRock Types of the Salt l/I/ashMember.--


Figures3 and 4 showhistograms of carbonatecontentfor eachof the principal
unoxidizedrock types. From the geometricmeanvaluesin Figures 3 and 4,
three conclusions
are drawn: 1) all types of unoxidizedsandstoneare similar
in average carbonatecontent, 2) unoxidized mudstonecontainsmore car-
CARBONATECEMENT AND VANADIUM-URANIUM 675

::3 0
o

o ::3

H,,Ld3Q
o

o
676 N. L. ARCHBOLD

TABLE 4
COMPARISON OF CARBONATE CONTENT ON EITHER SIDE OF ALTERATION
CONTACTS IN MUDSTONE
Vertical distance
Percent carbonate in Percent carbonate in separating samples
altered mudstone unaltered mudstone (in feet)
0.4 0.9 0.2
0.8 12.4 2.1
1.1 28.5 3.3
37.0 20.9 0.5
3.1 10.2 0.5
2.2 19.1 1.0
0.7 12.5 0.3
0.7 7.0 1.1
10.5 7.8 0.2
9.3 6.3 0.3
3.8 5.6 0.3
6.7 5.1 0.1
3.5 5.6 0.3
11.4 16.8 0.4
47.1 16.3 0.4
13.6 13.2 0.3
0.0 0.0 0.5

bonatethan unoxidizedsandstone,and 3) altered mudstonecontainsslightIy


less carbonatethan unalteredmudstone,though both show a wide range in
carbonatecontent. Limy nodulesare locally abundantin altered mudstone
andmaybe thecausefor thebimodalhistogram
shownin Figure3B.

:
%,:,Oo o

I I ' *'''1 ' ' ' '"""1 ' ' ' '
0.1 I.O I0.0

PERCENT CARBONATE

FIG. 6. Carbonateversusvanadium oxide in samplesof oxidized sandstone,


Upper Groupof mines,San Miguel County,Colo.
CARBONATE CEMENT _zlND VANADIUM-URANIUM 677

Mean carbonatepercentages for all typesof oxidizedrockshave not been


determinedalthough oxidized and unoxidized mineralized sandstonehave
been compared(Fig. 4). The mean valuesfor carbonatein oxidized and
unoxidizedmineralizedsandstone,3.0 percentand 2.6 percentrespectively,
are fairly close,though there is a differencein the two distributions. Car-

O'


**

**** .%**




. .:*' * 0O* .


-
*. : o


.
%000
coo. - %
ee ee

IIii I

i , I , , , i,j , , , , , , ,,j , , , ,
I.O IO.O

PERCENT CARBONATE

Fro. 7. Carbonateversusuraniumoxide in samplesof oxidizedsandstone,


Upper Group of mines,San Miguel County,Colo.

bonatein oxidizedmineralizedsandstone
hasa unimodaldistribution,whereas
in unoxidized mineralized sandstoneit has a bimodal distribution. The reason
for this differencein distribution
is not apparent;possiblythe bimodaldis-
tributionresultedfromredistribution of originalcarbonate
duringmineraliza-
tion, and destructionof the bimodaldistributionmay have resultedfrom
slightchanges
duringoxidation.
Estimates of carbonate content in sandstoneof the lower Salt Wash indi-
678 N. L. ARCHBOLD

cate that the lower sandstone(generally barren) containsappreciablymore


carbonatethan the upper (ore-bearing) sandstone. This is in agreement
with the work of Craig and others (1, p. 147) who report an averageof 13
percentcarbonatecementfor sandstoneof the Salt Wash as a whole.

i I I
I i I , i i,,, I i , , , Il* I
Ool I.O IO,O

PERCENT CARBONATE

Fro. 8. Carbonate versus vanadium oxide in samplesof unoxidized sandstone,


DisappointmentValley area, San Miguel County, Colo.

CarbonateDistribution at Litholot7icContacts.--The carbonatecontent


of oxidizedand unoxidizedsandstoneis generallygreatestadjacentto con-
tactswith mudstone(Fig. 5), where,accordingto data obtainedby Robert
A. Cadiganand David A. Phoenix (oral communications, 1955), sorting
and permeabilityin the sandstone
are at a minimum.
Sampleswere taken on either side of contactsbetweenbrownishred
(unaltered)and gray-green(altered)mudstone.At 10 of the 17 contacts
sampled,the carbonatecontentwas significantlyless on the gray-green
(altered)sideof the contact(Table4). At 2 contacts,
therewasessentially
no differencein the amountof carbonateon either side, and at the remaining
5 contacts,the carbonateconcentration
was greater on the gray-greenside.
CARBONA TE CEMENT AND VANADIUM-URANIUM 679

Carbonateand Vanadium-Uranium
Content.--In the Disappointment
Valley area, no correlation exists between the carbonate content and the
vanadiumor uraniumcontentof mineralizedsamples. This lack of correla-
tionis apparent
in bothoxidizedandunoxidized
sandstone(Figs. 6, 7, 8, and
9).

j i I I i i i I Ij I I I i i i i ij ! I

0.1 1.0 I0.0


PERCENT CARBONATE

Fro. 9. Carbonate
versusuraniumoxidein samples of unoxidized
sandstone,
Disappointment
Valley area, San Miguel County,Colo.
CarbonateDistribution Relative to Mineralized S'andstone.--Ore bodies
in sandstoneof the SaltWashmemberoccurin two forms:irregulartabular
or lenticular
masses thatareflatlyingbutwhichmaypinchandswellin short
distances,
locallycuttingacrossthebedding;andelongatebodiescalled"rolls"
whichhavecurvedcrosssections andcut sharplyacrossbedding._Anore
680 N. L. ARCHBOLD

EXPLANATION

ALTERED MUDSTONE

BARREN ALTERED SANDSTONE

MINERALIZED SANDSTONE

TABULAR ORE BODY LESS


THAJPE
RCENT CARBONATE

.='gv.--.
ALTEREO MUDSTONE 3 TO I0 PERCENT CARBONATE

'.':v.--..':..?'........-....
....'. SEAM 4 '"G".THGK
..'.
::.'.'/.:.!.-:.,
....
.-.-..
=.::
:.:
..:.:
? :',......
:::::: .:L:.!.:':':.':.:.
_...-.
.:! :..';.:'.-'
_ \
.'.:::':::.::-:::.::.'-"a<.'""...-.':
..-'..._'
GREATER THAN I0 PERCENT
-&.:. -:: :....:.:..:. . ::... ... :... : . . '.....:...,...-..-.._...:_._._ CARBONATE

SAMPLE
POINT
-.. ?.
0 S FEET
I .... I
HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL
S(ALE
ROLL ORE BODY

FIG. 10. Distribution of carbonatein faces of oxidized ore, Cougar mine,


San Miguel County, Colo.

EXPLANATION

!:..'.:
.A..E. ALTE.ED SA. DSTO.E

MINERALIZED SANDSTONE

NONE TO TRACE CARBONATE

SPARSE CA,RBONATE

MODERATE TO ABUNDANT
CARBONATE

SAMPLE POINT
o 5 FEET

HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL


SCALE

Fxc. 11. Distribution of carbonate around oxidized roll ore bodies, Cougar
mine, San Miguel County, Colo. (based on estimatesof carbonatecontent).
CARBONATE CEMENT AND ?ANADIUM-URANIUM 681

depositmay be composed mainlyof one type of ore body,but mostdeposits


containboth types.
Samplesfrom mines indicate that higher than average amountsof car-
bonate (more than 3 percent) occur in sandstonein zones close to and
roughlyparallelto bothtypesof ore bodiesin bothoxidizedandunoxidizedore
deposits. Carbonate-richlayers occur aboveand below tabular or lenticular

EXPLANATION

GOLDEN CYCLE MINE


BARREN ALTERED SANDSTONE
O 5 FEET

HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL SCALE


MINERALIZED SANDSTONE

:..:.........
.'. M IN
ERAL*IZE NONE TO

SPARSE

MODERATE
TRACE

TO
CARBONATE

CARBONATE

ABUNDANT
CARBONATE

SAMPLE POINT

VIRGIN MINE
0 4 FEET

HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL SCALE

FIG. 12. Distribution of carbonate around unoxidized ore bodies, Uravan


district, Montrose County, Colo. (basedon estimatesof carbonatecontent).

ore bodies;theselayersare up to severalfeet thick and may be in contact


with the ore or separatedfrom it by severalfeet of barren sandstonecon-
taining averageamountsof carbonate(Figs. 10 and 12). The ore contains
near-averageamountsof carbonate.
Carbonate-richzonesare also found adjacentto and roughlyparallel to
roll-typeore bodies(Figs. 11 and 12).
Carbonate-rich zones are also associated with mineralized sandstone in
unoxidizeddrill cores(Fig. 5).
682 N. L. ARCHBOLD

SUiiARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Sandstonefrom the top (ore bearing) unit of the Salt Wash memberof
the Morrison formationcontainsan averageof 2.5 to 3.0 percentcarbonate
regardlessof whether or not it has been epigeneticallyaltered, mineralized,
or weathered (oxidized). The lower (generally barren) sandstonelenses
of the Salt Wash member contain several times more carbonate than those of
the upper sandstone. It appearsthat the ore-bearingsandstoneoriginally
contained less carbonate cement.
Altered mudstonecontainsslightly less carbonatethan unalteredmud-
stoneand the processof mudstonealterationprobablyinvolvedsomeleaching
of carbonate. On the other hand, altered and unaltered sandstonehave about
the sameamountof carbonate,and possiblythe mudstoneand sandstonewere
alteredby differentagents.
Carbonate-richzones adjacent to contactswith mudstoneare probably
syngeneticor early diageneticfeatures,whereascarbonate-richzoneswhich
are closelyassociatedin spacewith ore bodiesmay be geneticallyrelated to
ore deposits.
Where the ore-bearingsandstonehas been subjectedto weatheringand
associated oxidation,the averagecarbonatecontenthas apparentlynot been
greatlychangednor has carbonatebeenappreciablyredistributed.
If certain carbonate-richzonesor types of carbonateare geneticallyasso-
ciatedwith ore bodies,they might be usefulas ore guides.
DEPARTMENTOF GEOLOGY,
UNIVERSITYOF MICI-IIGAN,
ANN AmOR,MICH.,
Sept. 25, 1958

REFERENCES

1. Craig, L. C., Holmes, C. N., Cadigan, R. A., Freeman, V. L., Mullens, T. E., and Weir,
G. W., 1955, Stratigraphy of the Morrison and related formations, Colorado Plateau
region, a preliminary report: U.S. Geol. Survey Bull. 1009-E.
2. Scott, W. W., and Jewell, D. W., 1930, The loss of weight method for carbon dioxide
determination in carbonates: Ind. and Eng. Chemistry, Anal., 2d ed., p. 76.
3. Shawe, D. R., 1956, Alteration related to Colorado Plateau ore deposits (abstract): Geol.
Soc. America Bull., v. 67, no. 12, pt. 2, p. 1732.
4. Stokes, W. L., and Phoenix, D. A., 1948, Geology of the Egnar-Gypsum Valley area, San
Miguel and Montrose Counties, Colorado: U.S. Geol. Survey Oil and Gas Inv., Prelim.
Map. 93.