Uranium potential of southwestern New Mexico (southern Hidalgo County), including observations on crystallization history of lavas and ash tuffs and the release of uranium from them. Final report
Description: Geological environments present in southwestern New Mexico include thick sequences of sedimentary rock including limestone, conglomerates, sandstone, and shale: igneous intrusions with associated metal deposits; caldera centers, margins, and outflow facies; and basins with marginal faults and thick late Cenozoic sedimentary fillings. Predominant rock types are Paleozoic carbonates, Mesozoic terrigeneous rocks and carbonates, and Cenozoic volcanic rocks and basin-filling terrigeneous rocks. Consideration of information available in Preliminary Reconnaissance Reports and in Hydrogeochemical and Stream Reconnaissance Reports together with 347 new whole rock chemical analyses points to three areas of anomalous uranium abundance in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. The area has experienced three major periods of igneous activity in Phanerozoic time: one associated with the Laramide cycle of the Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary, mid-Tertiary cycle of silicic volcanism with abundant calderas, and a late Tertiary cycle of mafic volcanism. Silicic volcanic rocks are the most common exposed rock type in the area, and the most enriched in uranium (range, 0.4 to 19 ppM). The most likely source for any uranium ore-forming solutions lies with this cycle of volcanism. Solutions might have been introduced during volcanism or formed later by groundwater leaching of cooled volcanic rocks. Results indicate that groundwater leaching of cooled volcanic rocks was not an effective means of mobilizing uranium in the area. Study of several rhyolite lava flows indicates that they were emplaced in supercooled condition and may have crystallized completely at temperatures well below their liquids, or they may have warmed as crystallization released latent heat. Statistical comparison of the uranium concentration revealed no differences between vitrophyres and associated felsites.
Date: August 1, 1980
Creator: Walton, A.W.; Salter, T.L. & Zetterlund, D.
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