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X-ray powder data for uranium and thorium minerals

January 1, 1956

The U.S. Geological Survey has in preparation a comprehensive volume on the mineralogy of uranium and thorium. This work has been done as part of a continuing systematic survey of data on uranium and thorium minerals on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Pending publication of this volume and in response to a widespread demand among workers in uranium and thorium mineralogy, the X-ray powder diffraction data for the known minerals that contain uranium or thorium as an essential constituent are presented here. The coverage is complete except for a few minerals for which there are no reliable data owing to lack of authentic specimens.

With the exception of that for ianthinite, the new data either originated in the Geological Survey or in the Mineralogical Laboratory of Harvard University. Data from the literature or other sources were cross-checked against the files of standard patterns of these laboratories; the sources are indicated in the references. Data not accompanied by a reference were obtained from films in the Harvard Standard File and cross-checked as to the identity of the film with the Geological Survey's file.

Minor differences can be expected in the d-spacings reported for the same specimens by different investigators because of the manner of preparation of the mount, the conditions of X-ray irradiation, and the method of photography and measurement of the film or chart. The Harvard and Geological Survey data all were obtained from films taken in 114-mm diameter cameras, using either ethyl cellulose and toluene or collodion spindle mounts and Straumanis-type film mounting. Unless otherwise indicated all patterns were taken with copper radiation (Kα 1.5418 A.) and nickel filter and data are given in Angstrom units. The d-spacings are not corrected for film shrinkage. The correction ordinarily is small and in general is less than either the variation in spacing arising from differences in experimental technique of different investigators, including the varying absorption of samples of different thickness and concentration, or the variation attending slight changes in the chemical composition of the mineral.

Some uranium minerals give poor diffraction patterns. The best results are generally obtained by using relatively small diameter spindles and long exposures, with a take-off angle from teh X-ray tube of about 4°. It is sometimes advantageous to shield the film from fluorescence in the visible region excited by X-ray irradiation. Copper radiation is preferable. The patterns of a few uranium minerals are greatly impaired by heavy grinding of the sample. Light crushing of the coarse sample after mixing with about one-third its volume of coarsely powdered low-absorption glass is helpful.

Many uranium minerals, such as the members of the torbernite group, readily lose zeolithic water or transform to lower hydrates at or near ordinary conditions of temperature and humidity and care should be taken to control this in the manner of preservation and preparation of the sample.

Publication Year 1956
Title X-ray powder data for uranium and thorium minerals
DOI 10.3133/tei575
Authors Clifford Frondel, Daphne Riska, Judith Weiss Frondel
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Trace Elements Investigations
Series Number 575
Index ID tei575
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse