The Geology of the Rabbit Lake urnnium deposit, Saskatchewan

Heine, Thomas H.
Organization: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
"The Rabbit Lake uranium deposit is located at 58° 11’00”N.. 103°42'36""W., close to the west side of Wollaston Lake, and approximately 800 km north of Saskatoon. The orebody is hosted by Aphebian Wollaston Group rocks, initially deposited as a series of shallow-water marine sediments consisting, in part, of carbonates and possible saliferous petites. Metamorphism during the Hudsonian Orogeny, peaking at about 1850 Ma, recrystallized the sediments to upper amphibolite grade paragneisses. This was accompanied by partial anatexis. The waning stages of Hudsonian orogenesis appear to be marked by minor granitic intrusive activity.The post-Hudsonian period was marked by a long interval of physical and chemical erosion, resulting in the unroofing of the Wollaston metamorphic complex. The entire region underwent extensive lateritic weathering under tropical to subtropical conditions. Carbonates were especially vulnerable and, in the Rabbit Lake area, suffered extensive solutioning with accompanying formation of collapse breccias. Old zones of weakness also underwent periodic reactivation.It was during this period that uranium was leached from the surrounding meta-sediments by oxidizing meteoric waters, and transported into the karsted and fractured rocks of the Rabbit Lake doline.Athabasca Group sediments eventually covered the deposit, their diagenesis taking place at about 200 °C and 900 bars. This allowed the partial to complete recrystallization of the initial mineralization, resulting in a minimum age of 1281 ± 11 Major ""first""-generation pitchblende. Periodic fault/fracture reactivation modified the hydrologic regime within the deposit, resulting in episodic mobilization and recrystallization of pitchblende and other uraniferous species. This is clearly shown in the open pit at the present time: uranium is being mobilized and recrystallized on damp pit walls as bayleyite and liebigite due to the modification of the hydrologic system by mining activities.The uranium mineralization occurs mainly as fracture fillings, coatings, and impregnations within breccia zones and intensely altered metasediments. Lesser mineralization is intimately associated with phyllosilicates which form the matrix of a carbonate-col/apse mega-breccia. The primary ore mineral is pitchblende, consisting of five generations, and from which a large suite of secondary uraniferous minerals have formed. On a gross scale the metal content of this deposit appears to be simple, consisting almost exclusively of U, but minor Ni, As, Cu, Se, Fe and Co are also present. The eastern limit of the mineralization is defined by a vertically-dipping microgranite dyke - breccia complex, containing high-grade uranium values. The orebody is truncated to the west and at depth by the Rabbit Lake reverse fault. Minor mineralization occurs as fracture fillings in unaltered plagioclasite in the footwall of the ore body. Precipitation of uranium from solution could have taken place by a number of processes. A mobile reductant (methane, carbon dioxide, etc.) may have been generated from graphite present in some of the host rocks of the orebody. Sulphides are also a common accessory and may have aided in the formation of a reducing environment. Phyllosilicates may have acted as adsorbants for uranium, allowing for its fixation. This metal has also been incorporated into the phyllosilicates themselves."
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