Unconformity-Type Uranium Systems: A Comparative Review and Predictive Modelling of Critical Genetic Factors

Matt Bruce, Oliver Kreuzer, Andy Wilde, Amanda Buckingham, Kristin Butera, Frank Bierlein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A review of descriptive and genetic models is presented for unconformity-type uranium deposits with particular attention given to spatial representations of key process components of the mineralising system and their mappable expressions. This information formed the basis for the construction of mineral potential models for the world’s premier unconformity-style uranium provinces, the Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan, Canada (>650,000 t U3 O8), and the NW McArthur Basin in the Northern Territory, Australia (>450,000 t U3 O8). A novel set of ‘edge’ detection routines was used to identify high-contrast zones in gridded geophysical data in support of the mineral potential modelling. This approach to geophysical data processing and interpretation offers a virtually unbiased means of detecting potential basement structures under cover and at a range of scales. Fuzzy logic mineral potential mapping was demonstrated to be a useful tool for delineating areas that have high potential for hosting economic uranium concentrations, utilising all knowledge and incorporating all relevant spatial data available for the project area. The resulting models not only effectively ‘rediscover’ the known uranium mineralisation but also highlight several other areas containing all of the mappable components deemed critical for the accumulation of economic uranium deposits. The intelligence amplification approach to mineral potential modelling presented herein is an example of augmenting expert-driven conceptual targeting with the powerful logic and rationality of modern computing. The result is a targeting tool that captures the current status quo of geospatial and exploration information and conceptual knowledge pertaining to unconformity-type uranium systems. Importantly, the tool can be readily updated once new information or knowledge comes to hand. As with every targeting tool, these models should not be utilised in isolation, but as one of several inputs informing exploration decision-making. Nor should they be regarded as ‘treasure maps’, but rather as pointers towards areas of high potential that are worthy of further investigation. © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Original languageEnglish
Article number738
Pages (from-to)1-55
Number of pages55
JournalMinerals
Volume10
Issue number9
Early online date21 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

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