A geoenvironmental assessment methodology was developed to estimate waste quantities and disturbances that could be associated with the extraction of undiscovered uranium resources and identify areas on the landscape where uranium and other constituents of potential concern (COPCs) that may co-occur with uranium deposits in this region are likely to persist, if introduced into the environment. Prior to this work, a method was lacking to quantitively assess the environmental aspects associated with potential development of undiscovered uranium resources at a scale of a uranium resource assessment. The mining method of in situ recovery (ISR) was historically used to extract uranium from deposits in the Goliad Sand of the Texas Coastal Plain. For this reason, the study’s methodology projected the following types of wastes and disturbances commonly associated with ISR based on historical ISR mining records: the mine area, affected aquifer volume, mine pore volume, water pumped and disposed during uranium extraction and restoration, and radon emissions. Within the tract permissive for the occurrence of undiscovered uranium resources, maps and statistics of factors were derived that indicate the potential contaminant pathways. The percentage of days meeting the criteria for air stagnation indicate the potential for radon accumulation; the geochemical mobility of COPCs in groundwater in combination with effective recharge indicates the potential for infiltration of surface-derived COPCs; the geochemical mobility of COPCs in groundwater combined with hydraulic conductivity indicates the propensity for transmitting fluids away from contaminated or mined aquifers; and finally, geochemical mobility of COPCs in surface water combined with the factor for climatic erosivity (R factor) indicates the potential for COPCs to persist in surface waters due to runoff. This work resulted in a new methodology that can be applied to any undiscovered mineral resource to better understand possible wastes and disturbances associated with extraction and identify areas on the landscape where COPCs are likely to persist.
|Title||A novel method for conducting a geoenvironmental assessment of undiscovered ISR-amenable uranium Resources: Proof-of-concept in the Texas Coastal Plain|
|Authors||Tanya J. Gallegos, Victoria G. Stengel, Katherine Walton-Day, Johanna Blake, Andrew Teeple, Delbert G Humberson, Steven M. Cahan, Douglas Yager, Kent D Becher|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Colorado Water Science Center; Eastern Energy Resources Science Center; New Mexico Water Science Center; Texas Water Science Center; Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center|