Sandstone type uranium deposits in the Ordos Basin, Northwest China: A case study and an overview

Shamim Akhtar, Xiaoyong Yang, Franco Pirajno

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper provides a comprehensive review on studies of sandstone type uranium deposits in the Ordos Basin, Northwest China. As the second largest sedimentary basin, the Ordos Basin has great potential for targeting sandstone type U mineralization. The newly found and explored Dongsheng and Diantou sandstone type uranium deposits are hosted in the Middle Jurassic Zhilou Formation. A large number of investigations have been conducted to trace the source rock compositions and relationship between lithic subarkose sandstone host rock and uranium mineralization. An optical microscopy study reveals two types of alteration associated with the U mineralization: chloritization and sericitization. Some unusual mineral structures, with compositional similarity to coffinite, have been identified in a secondary pyrite by SEM These mineral phases are proposed to be of bacterial origin, following high resolution mapping of uranium minerals and trace element determinations in situ. Moreover, geochemical studies of REE and trace elements constrained the mechanism of uranium enrichment, displaying LREE enrichment relative to HREE. Trace elements such as Pb, Mo and Ba have a direct relationship with uranium enrichment and can be used as index for mineralization. The source of uranium ore forming fluids and related geological processes have been studied using H, O and C isotope systematics of fluid inclusions in quartz veins and the calcite cement of sandstone rocks hosting U mineralization. Both H and O isotopic compositions of fluid inclusions reveal that ore forming fluids are a mixture of meteoric water and magmatic water. The C and S isotopes of the cementing material of sandstone suggest organic origin and bacterial sulfate reduction (BSR), providing an important clue for U mineralization. Discussion of the ore genesis shows that the greenish gray sandstone plays a crucial role during processes leading to uranium mineralization. Consequently, an oxidation-reduction model for sandstone-type uranium deposit is proposed, which can elucidate the source of uranium in the deposits of the Ordos Basin, based on the role of organic materials and sulfate reducing bacteria. We discuss the mechanism of uranium deposition responsible for the genesis of these large sandstone type uranium deposits in this unique sedimentary basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Volume146
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2017

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