Geology of the Athabasca Basin

Langford, F.F.
Organization: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Pages: 11
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
"The Athabasca Basin occupies about 100,000 km2 of the northwest corner of Saskatchewan with its western margin extending about 50 km into Alberta (Fig. 1). The basin is filled with a Helikian sequence of predominantly fluvial sandstones up to 1600 m thick. The sandstone beds are generally flat-lying, and rest unconformably on a crystalline basement which consists mostly of granitic intrusive complexes and quartzfeldspar- biotite gneisses. The basement rocks represent Aphebian sediments and Archaean basement rocks that were metamorphosed and remobilized to varying degrees during the Hudsonian Orogeny (ca 1800 Maj.Since 1968, three mining camps and several substantial unconformity-type uranium deposits have been discovered in the area (Figs. 1 and 2). These deposits lie along the unconformity surface, partially enclosed in sandstones, and partially in the basement rocks. The major deposits have elongate, pencil shaped orebodies that are parallel to the strike of underlying graphitic biotite gneisses. The total tonnage of uranium is in the order of 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes and mining grades range from 0.5 to 2.5 per cent U3O8.IntroductionUranium exploration started in Saskatchewan in 1945 when Jolliffe and Murphy headed field parties to investigate uranium occurrences on the north shore of Lake Athabasca (Kupsch, 1978). Their investigation lead to the development of the Beaverlodge camp in the following years. Some of the early prospectors were impressed by the fact that the uranium occurrences at Beaver lodge were centred on a thick sequence of unmetamorphosed arkosic redbeds which are now called the Martin Group. This sequence was referred to as the Athabasca Series by Christie (1949), and although some occurrences of uranium were found near Stony Rapids and Black Lake, the vast expanse of Athabasca sandstones south of Lake Athabasca was generally regarded as unpromising."
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