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The ubiquitous association of pitchblende uranium deposits with terrestrial sediments is believed to be the natural result of formation of the orebodies by surficial processes operating under continental conditions. The major uranium deposits of North America illustrate this. The quartz-pebble conglomerate uranium deposits of Elliot Lake, Ontario, have thorium-rich uranium minerals that indicate a detrital origin. With the development of an oxygenic atmosphere before 1,700 m.y. ago, uranium was transported in solution in meteoric surface and near-surface ground water, and produced pitchblende veins in fractures in the basement and in lava flows in terrestrial environments. This accounts for the close association of fluvial sediments with the pitchblende deposits at Beaver odge, Rabbit Lake, Baker Lake, and Great Bear Lake, Canada. The development of land plants about 300 m.y. ago produced favorable environments within the terrestrial sandstones themselves, and resulted in the tabular uranium orebodies of the Colorado Plateau. The close relation of tabular orebodies to sedimentation is apparent when compared to recent fluvial sedimentation. In Wyoming, the stratigraphic restriction of the boundary-roll deposits to a few zones in Eocene rocks results from their being remobilized tabular deposits.
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