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Professional Paper 576-F

Uranium-Vanadium Deposits of the Slick Rock District, Colorado

By Daniel R. Shawe

Thumbnail of publication and link to report Front Matter (14.6 MB)

The area of the Slick Rock district saw the first production of uranium on the Colorado Plateau. Four periods of mining followed, initially for uranium from about 1900 to 1910, then for radium to about 1923. Following a decade of inactivity, mining resumed, this time for recovery of vanadium, in the early 1930s until 1944. Mining began again in 1949 for major production of uranium, with vanadium as a byproduct. This period lasted until 1983, ending when the price of uranium went into serious decline. Presently (2008) renewed interest in demand for uranium is pointing toward additional mining in the district.

Recent (2006–2008) revival of interest in uranium resources in the United States, spurred by a national effort to increase the use of nuclear power for the generation of electrical energy, has been the impetus for completion of this report on the uranium-vanadium deposits of the Slick Rock district. A large body of observations and data has led to several critical concepts that provide a rational interpretation of origin and formation (genesis) of the deposits. The report presents these observations, data, concepts, and interpretation.

This report on uranium-vanadium ore deposits is the sixth and final in a series describing geologic investigations during 1953–58 in the Slick Rock mining district in southwestern Colorado. The first five reports dealt with stratigraphy of the district and vicinity, petrography of the sedimentary rocks, structure, sedimentary rock alteration, and geologic history. Other published reports growing out of these studies described the geologic setting as well as some details of the uranium-vanadium ores. More recent studies have clarified aspects of origin and formation of the deposits.

The report consists of a summary of the principal elements of the geology of the district and surrounding areas, as presented in the early reports just referred to, which constitutes the framework for interpretation of the processes of origin and formation of the uranium-vanadium deposits. The data in these reports are extensively supplemented here with details of the forms, textures, and compositions of the ore deposits. Much of that data was obtained during the original project studies, but it is supplemented with more recent unpublished data from other studies.


Suggested citation:

Shawe, D.R., 2011, Uranium-vanadium deposits of the Slick Rock district, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 576-F, 80 p., 20 plates.




History of the District

Geologic Setting of the Ore Deposits

Characteristics of the Host Rocks

Chinle Formation

Morrison Formation

Distribution and Configuration of Units

Lithology of the Brushy Basin Member

Lithology of the Salt Wash Member

Lithology of the Ore-Bearing Sandstone

Relation of Uranium-Vanadium Deposits to Carbonaceous Material

Uranium-Vanadium Ore Deposits

Weathered and Unweathered Deposits

Distribution of Uranium-Vanadium Deposits

Alteration of Sedimentary Rocks Related to Uranium-Vanadium Ore Deposits

Source of Barite, and Sulfur and Strontium Isotopes

Form and Size of Uranium-Vanadium Deposits and Constituent Ore Bodies

Tabular Ore Deposits (Simple Ore Bodies and More Complex Forms)

Roll Ore Deposits

Details of Ore Body Form and Texture

Mineralogy and Petrography of the Ore Deposits

Moss Back Member Ore Deposits

Salt Wash Member Ore Deposits

Petrography of the Salt Wash Member Ore Deposits

Thin-Section and Heavy-Mineral Studies of Oxidized Cougar Mine Rolls

Heavy-Mineral Studies Indicate Relation of Authigenic Anatase and Barite to Uranium-Vanadium Ore Deposits

Chemical Composition of the Uranium-Vanadium Deposits

District-Wide Distribution of Elements

Distribution of Elements In and Near a Roll in the Burro No. 7 Mine

Lead-Isotope Data for the Burro No. 3 Roll Ore Body

History of Lead in the Burro No. 3 Roll Ore Body

Uranium-, Thorium-, and Protactinium-Isotope Data for the Burro No. 7 Roll Ore Body

Strontium-Isotope Distribution Related to Position of Ore Deposits

Chemical Character of Formation Fluids Involved in Genesis of the Ores

Regional Relations of Ore Deposits

Lead Isotopes

Chemical Correlations

Age Correlations

Genesis of the Uranium-Vanadium Ore Deposits

Evolution of Genesis Concepts

Extending the Concepts




A. Uranium-Vanadium Production

B. Account of Mining in the Slick Rock District, 1965

C. Chemical Formulas of Minerals Described in this Report

First posted February 8, 2010

For additional information contact:

USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Box 25046, Mail Stop 973
Denver, CO 80225

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