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This paper considers a uranium occurrence model that shows how early Eocene and Oligocene depositional patterns and paleogeography can be used to identify favorable host rocks and to suggest where uraniferous ground water passed through these rocks. The uranium in the ground water was derived mostly from volcanic ash of the Oligocene White River Group. This model accounts for most known uranium deposits and occurrences in eastern Wyoming, western South Dakota, and western Nebraska.
All major deposits in Eocene sandstones are in rocks of the fan-channel facies that were identified by sand grain size and shape studies, and most deposits are basinward of present-day major mountain valleys. Deposits occur only where rocks of this facies are less than 300 m (980 ft) below the reconstructed basal Oligocene surface--a distance calculated from roll-front migration and erosion rates.
Uranium deposits in other than Eocene rocks also are related to the configuration of the pre-Oligocene surface. White River channel sandstones have deposits and occurrences along a 200-km (125-mi) section of a major Oligocene river in eastern Wyoming and Nebraska. Oligocene trans-mountain drainages localized uranium occurrences in Precambrian granitic rocks in the Laramie Mountains. Deposits in Cretaceous rocks in northern Colorado and along the flanks of the Black Hills lie beneath the axes of Oligocene channels. The channels were the major conduits that localized the movement of the uranium-bearing solutions. Rocks underlying the divides between the channels are unfavorable for uranium deposits where the channels are parallel to the regional dip, because the divides have a thick imp rvious lateritic soil cover.
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