The Relationship Between Uranium Distribution and some Major Crustal Features in Canada

A. G. Darnley
Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Abstract: The availability of reconnaissance scale geochemical maps for large areas of Canada enables spatial associations between major crustal structures and surface uranium content to be identified. Maps of the distribution of uranium for an area greater than 2 million km2 compiled from airborne gamma-ray spectrometry data are supplemented by maps for uranium, based on stream and lake sediment and some bore hole sampling. These are examined in relation to gravity, aeromagnetic and geological maps.

The radioelement distribution can be related in detail to exposed bedrock and surface geology, but in addition there is evidence of the control of uranium distribution by major structural features which are marked by granitoids containing elevated levels of radioelements; several of these granitoids are associated with large negative Bouguer gravity anomalies. The distribution of such granitoids appears to be related to ‘megashears’, as in the case of the South Mountain batholith in Nova Scotia, or zones of tension. A belt of uranium enrichment, the Athabasca axis which is characterized by uraniferous granitoids with negative Bouguer gravity anomalies and associated tension faulting extends 2500 km northeast-ward from Edmonton, Alberta to the Melville Peninsula. This structure passes under the Athabasca basin which contains many large uranium deposits. Recent evidence that granitoids enriched in radioelements can provide low-grade heat sources over periods of hundreds of millions of years, capable, in favourable situations of maintaining low-temperature hydrothermal circulation is considered to account for uranium and other mineralization in the basin. It is suggested that the transfer of radioelements into the crust at the end of the Lower Proterozoic, was a factor in the stabilization of North American craton.

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1981 v. 44; no. 336; p. 425-436; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1981.044.336.08
© 1981, The Mineralogical Society
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