Abstract: In Niger, uranium occurs in upper Palaeozoic and lower Mesozoic continental sedimentary basins west of the Aïr mountains, but the source of the uranium had not been identified. Geochemical studies and fissiontrack observations on alkaline ignimbrites preserved in two Palaeozoic anorogenic centres in Aïr show that uranium is concentrated in the matrix and on secondary iron-oxide coatings surrounding lithic and crystal fragments. Based on variable Th/U ratios and degree of oxidation, it is concluded that the original ignimbrite field was enriched in uranium, but that a considerable proportion was leached during the weathering of the volcanic pile. Tectonic uplift, anorogenic magmatism, followed by weathering and erosion of the volcanic cover, with sedimentation in nearby continental basins, have all contributed to the development of uranium mineralization in Niger. The petrological and geochemical similarities between the Palaeozoic ring complexes in Niger and the Nigerian Mesozoic ring structures suggest that sedimentary uranium deposits may also be found in Nigeria if the tectonic and sedimentological controls were favourable.
Enriched concentrations of uranium have been discovered in the exposed granitic roof zones of the Nigerian subvolcanic centres, with Th/U ratios approaching unity. Thus local vein deposits of uraninite, as well as dispersed uranium in recent sedimentary horizons, could be discovered particularly in the drainage systems entering the Chad Basin.