Carnotite resources of the upper group area, San Miguel County, Colorado

Trace Elements Investigations 145
Work done on behalf of the Division of Raw Materials, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.



The Upper group area, which consists of 10 Government claims and adjoining public land, is 2 miles southeast of Slick Rock, San Miguel County, Colo., in unsurveyed secs. 5 and 6, T. 43 N., R. 18 W., New Mexico principal meridian. The area is equidistant from mills at Monticello, Utah, and Naturita, Colo. Both mills are reached by about 45 miles of all-weather roads.

About 2,700 tons of carnotite ore was produced from the area between 1921 and 1943 (tons used in this report are short tons). This ore had an estimated average grade of 0.25 percent U30g and 1.7 percent V205.

The ore deposits are in the top sandstone stratum of the Salt Wash sandstone member of the Tipper Jurassic Morrison formation.  The principal ore-bearing minerals, which mainly impregnate the sandstone, consist of uranium-bearing carnotite and a micaceous vanadium-bearing mineral called “roscoelite." The deposits are mostly in small podlike masses called "rolls." The size of the rolls ranges from less than 50 to more than 1,500 tons each. The long axes of the rolls have a dominant northeasterly to easterly trend.

Exploration by the Geological Survey was done on behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission to test unexplored ground for new deposits of carnotite ore and to gain a better appraisal of the reserves in the area. From 1948 to 1950, 186 diamond-drill holes were completed for a total of 14,577 feet.

The areas of favorable sandstone were found and defined by holes drilled 300 to 500 feet apart.  Altered mudstone, carbonaceous material in the sandstone, and color of the sandstone were used to determine the favorability of the sandstone. Within areas containing favorable sandstone holes were drilled on 100- to 150-foot centers to find deposits. Where deposits were found more than 20 feet below the surface, they were roughly outlined by holes drilled on 50- to 75- foot centers. Deposits discovered within 20 feet of the surface were not outlined.

Reserves in deposits found by the drilling are classed as indicated and inferred, whereas those reserves that are predicted solely on geologic evidence are classed as potential. Indicated reserves computed at the highest thickness and grade cut-offs (1 foot or more thick and 0.10 percent U3O8 or .10 percent V205) total 5,000 tons, averaging 0.19 percent U308 and 1.6 percent V205.  Inferred reserves computed at the same cut-offs total 3,500 tons, averaging  .22 percent U308 and 1.7 percent V205. Both the indicated and inferred reserves, as well as the pounds of contained U3O8and V205, are summarized in table 1. Potential reserves are predicted to total about 1,500 tons, averaging about 0.20 percent U3O8 and 1.6 percent V205. Most of the potential reserves are expected to be in small scattered deposits within 20 feet of the surface.

No additional diamond drilling by the Geological Survey is planned in the Upper group area.  Several specific localities, principally in the central part of the area, are recommended for further exploration by jackhammer and wagon drilling by lessees and operators.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Carnotite resources of the upper group area, San Miguel County, Colorado
Series title Trace Elements Investigations
Series number 145
DOI 10.3133/tei145
Year Published 1951
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description Report: 53 p.; 2 Plates: 31.35 x 23.81 inches and 30.35 x 20.90 inches; Table
Country United States
State Colorado
County San Miguel County
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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