Uranium Districts Defined by Reconnaissance Geochemistry in South Greenland

A. Armour-Brown, A. Steenfelt, Helmar Kunzendorf

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    Abstract

    A reconnaissance exploration survey over 14 000 km2 of Precambrian terrain in South Greenland using stream-sediment and stream-water samples delineated a central uranium district of 2000 km2 with enhanced uranium levels and smaller anomalous zones in the south of the field area. The area is underlain by Archean and Proterozoic gneisses, granites and metasediments all of which have been intruded by late Proterozoic alkaline intrusions (Gardar Province). The terrain is mountainous and the streams are either steep torrents or impeded drainages typical of glaciated terrains with boggy organic rich sediments. The central uranium district was defined by a high uranium background in both stream sediments (5–20 ppm) and stream waters (0.5–1.0 ppb) and a markedly higher frequency of very anomalous values in the order of 50–100's ppm in the stream sediments and 1–10 ppb in the stream waters. An areal correlation of uranium, in this district, with high pH and conductivity in the stream water in addition to a higher organic content noted in the stream sediment raised the question of a possible enhancement of uranium values due to secondary environmental effects. On the other hand, an areal correlation of uranium with niobium and other trace elements characteristically associated with alkaline rocks, and the geographic proximity of this uraniferous district to the alkaline intrusions suggested a genetic relationship between uranium mineralization and the alkaline igneous activity. Limited follow-up work located 8 pitchblende occurrences in this extensive district. The pitchblende is in veins which contain quartz, calcite, iron oxide, fluorite and minor sulphides. The isotopic (U-Pb) age of the pitchblende, which ranges from 1180-1090 Ma, corresponds to the late stages of Gardar alkaline igneous activity. It is concluded, therefore, that the reconnaissance geochemistry reflects a district-wide hydrothermal event related to the late volatile differentiates derived from the highly fractionated alkaline magma. A combination of primary and secondary features have complemented each other in enhancing the geochemical reconnaissance data and emphasized its importance but has not materially altered the interpretation. The south of the field area also has a relatively high uranium background in both the sample media with some discrete anomalous zones, usually with a slightly lower order of magnitude than the central area, but still with a distinct contrast of 5–10 times. Fine-grained uraninite has been found in the area occurring as disseminated grains in pegmatitic elements as in the central district. Isotopic ratios (U-Pb) suggest an age of 1728 ± 30 Ma which probably reflects the long cooling of the granite. It is concluded that the geochemical reconnaissance data delineated two uranium metallogenic districts characterized by distinctly different types of uranium mineralization. It is suggested that South Greenland may be part of a much wider uranium geochemical province which includes parts of Labrador. To the present plate-tectonic models, which suggest such a connection (Le Pichon et al., 1977), must be added the comparable reconnaissance geochemical results (G.S.C. Open Files nos. 748 and 749), and the similar 1730 Ma age of the Kitts uranium mineral occurrence in Labrador (Gandhi, S.S , 1978) to that of the uraninite found in the south of the field area in Greenland.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
    Volume19
    Issue number1-3
    Pages (from-to)127-145
    ISSN0375-6742
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1983

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