Behavior of Colorado Plateau uranium minerals during oxidation
Uranium occurs as U(VI) and U(IV) in minerals of the Colorado Plateau ores. The number of species containing U(VI) is large, but only two U(IV) minerals are known from the Plateau: uraninite, and oxide, and coffinite, a hydroxy-silicate. These oxidize to yield U(VI) before reacting significantly with other mineral constituents. Crystal-structure analysis has shown that U(VI) invariable occurs as uranyl ion, UO2+2. Uranyl ion may form complex carbonate or sulfate ions with resulting soluble compounds, but only in the absence of quinquevalent vanadium, arsenic, or phosphorous. In the presence of these elements in the +5 valence state, the uranyl ion is fixed in insoluble layer compounds formed by union of uranyl ion with orthovanadate, orthophosphate, or orthoarsenate. Under favorable conditions UO2+2 may react to form the relatively insoluble rutherfordine, UO2CO3, or hydrated uranyl hydroxides. These are rarely found on the Colorado Plateau as opposed to their excellent development in other uraniferous areas, a condition which is apparently related to the semiarid climate and low water table of the Plateau. Uranium may also be fixed as uranyl silicate, but little is known about minerals of this kind. In the present study emphasis has been placed on a detailing of the chemical and crystal structural changes which occur in the oxidation paragenetic sequence.
|USGS Numbered Series
|Behavior of Colorado Plateau uranium minerals during oxidation
|Trace Elements Investigations
|U.S. Geological Survey
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