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Uranium-bearing lignite in southwestern North Dakota

January 1, 1954

Uranium-bearing lignite was mapped and sampled in the Bullion Butte, Sentinel Butte, HT Butte, and Chalky Buttes areas in southwestern North Dakota. The uraniferous lignite occurs at several stratigraphic positions in the Sentinel Butte member of the Fort Union formation of Paleocene age. A total of 261 samples were collected for uranium analysis from 85 localities, Lignite contained as much as 0.045 percent uranium, 10.0 percent ash, and 0.45 percent uranium in the ash was found although the average is lower. Inferred reserves for the four areas examined are estimated to be about 27 million tons of lignite in beds about 2 feet thick and containing more than 3000 tons of uranium. The lignite in beds about 2 feet thick and containing more than 3000 tons of uranium. The lignite averages more than 30 percent ash in the surface samples. The principal factor that seems to influence the uranium content of lignite beds is their stratigraphic position below the overlying rocks of the White River group of Oligocene age. All of the uranium-bearing beds closely underlie the base of the White River group. Although this relationship seems to be the controlling factor, the relative concentration of uranium may be modified by other conditions. Beds enclosed in permeable rocks are more uraniferous than beds in impermeable rocks, and thin beds have higher content of uranium than thick beds. In addition, thick lignite beds commonly have a top=preferential distribution of uranium. These and other factors suggest that the uranium is secondary and this it was introduced by ground water which had leached uranium from volcanic ash in the overlying rocks of the White River group. It is thought that the uranium is held in the lignite as part of a metallo-organic compound.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1954
Title Uranium-bearing lignite in southwestern North Dakota
DOI 10.3133/tei463
Authors George W. Moore, Robert E. Melin, Roy C. Kepferle
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Trace Elements Investigations
Series Number 463
Index ID tei463
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization