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The importance of dissolved free oxygen during formation of sandstone-type uranium deposits

January 1, 1994

One factor which distinguishes t, he genesis of roll-type uranium deposits from the Uravan Mineral Belt and other sandstone-type uranium deposits may be the presence and concentration of dissolved free oxygen in the ore-forming. solutions. Although dissolved oxygen is a necessary prerequisite for the formation of roll-type deposits, it is proposed that a lack of dissolved oxygen is a prerequisite for the Uravan deposits.

Solutions that formed both types of deposits probably had a supergene origin and originated as meteoric water in approximate equilibrium with atmospheric oxygen. Roll-type deposits were formed where the Eh dropped abruptly following consumption of the oxygen by iron sulfide minerals and creation of kinetically active sulfur species that could reduce uranium. The solutions that formed the Uravan deposits, on the other hand, probably first equilibrated with sulfide-free ferrous-ferric detrital minerals and fossil organic matter in the host rock. That is, the uraniferous solutions lost their oxygen without lowering their Eh enough to precipitate uranium. Without oxygen, they then. became incapable of oxidizing iron sulfide minerals. Subsequent localization and formation of ore bodies from these oxygen-depleted solutions, therefore, was not necessarily dependent on large reducing capacities.