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U–Pb, Rb–Sr, and U-series isotope geochemistry of rocks and fracture minerals from the Chalk River Laboratories site, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada

September 1, 2013

As part of the Geologic Waste Management Facility feasibility study, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) is evaluating the suitability of the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site in Ontario, situated in crystalline rock of the southwestern Grenville Province, for the possible development of an underground repository for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste. This paper presents petrographic and trace element analyses, U–Pb zircon dating results, and Rb–Sr, U–Pb and U-series isotopic analyses of gneissic drill core samples from the deep CRG-series characterization boreholes at the CRL site. The main rock types intersected in the boreholes include hornblende–biotite (±pyroxene) gneisses of granitic to granodioritic composition, leucocratic granitic gneisses with sparse mafic minerals, and garnet-bearing gneisses with variable amounts of biotite and/or hornblende. The trace element data for whole-rock samples plot in the fields of within-plate, syn-collision, and volcanic arc-type granites in discrimination diagrams used for the tectonic interpretation of granitic rocks.

Zircons separated from biotite gneiss and metagranite samples yielded SHRIMP-RG U–Pb ages of 1472 ± 14 (2σ) and 1045 ± 6 Ma, respectively, in very good agreement with widespread Early Mesoproterozoic plutonic ages and Ottawan orogeny ages in the Central Gneiss Belt. The Rb–Sr, U–Pb, and Pb–Pb whole-rock errorchron apparent ages of most of the CRL gneiss samples are consistent with zircon U–Pb age and do not indicate substantial large-scale preferential element mobility during superimposed metamorphic and water/rock interaction processes. This may confirm the integrity of the rock mass, which is a positive attribute for a potential nuclear waste repository. Most 234U/238U activity ratios (AR) in whole rock samples are within errors of the secular equilibrium value of one, indicating that the rocks have not experienced any appreciable U loss or gain within the past 1 Ma. However, 234U/238U AR in fracture mineral samples collected down to borehole lengths of about 740 m deviate from the secular equilibrium value and 234U/238U model ages calculated for fracture mineral samples showing excess 234U range from 593 to 1415 ka, thus providing evidence of fracture flow in the associated bedrock during the past 1.5 Ma. Rare earth element patterns are variable in fracture-filling calcites and Fe oxides/hydroxides but are similar to those observed in associated whole-rock samples. The observed Ce anomalies are very small (CeN/CeN∗≈1">CeN/CeN∗≈1), do not vary with depth, and, therefore, do not contain evidence that the studied fracture minerals precipitated from oxidizing waters at the conceptual depth of a repository.

Publication Year 2013
Title U–Pb, Rb–Sr, and U-series isotope geochemistry of rocks and fracture minerals from the Chalk River Laboratories site, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.06.004
Authors Leonid A. Neymark, Zell E. Peterman, Richard J. Moscati, R. H. Thivierge
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Applied Geochemistry
Index ID 70189243
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center