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The Oligocene-Miocene Catahoula Formation of the Texas Gulf coastal plain is a fluvial and lacustrine volcaniclastic unit composed of "normal" fluvial material mixed with distal rhyolitic air-fall ash. In the lower Texas Gulf coastal plain, it consists of stream-transported detritus from the volcanic source area in Trans-Pecos Texas and adjacent Mexico. This volcaniclastic component has altered to release uranium to mineralization processes in the lower Gulf Coast, but there has not been uranium production in the middle and upper Gulf Coast.
To evaluate the potential of the upper Texas Gulf coastal plain for uranium ore deposits, a geochemical study was undertaken. The Catahoula Formation was analyzed for U, Th, K, Rb, Sr, Zr, and Ti to estimate the nature of volcanic glass and its abundance and alteration. Concentrations from three key outcrops were compared. They were also compared to samples from a volcanic area in Trans-Pecos Texas, which is chemically appropriate as a source for the volcanic material in the Catahoula Formation.
In the lower Texas Gulf coastal plain, where uranium is produced, the glassy volcanic material has been pervasively altered, but in the upper coastal plain much glass remains. Because glass alteration is necessary for uranium release and concentration, the potential is low for large, shallow uranium ore bodies in the upper Texas Gulf coastal plain.
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