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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5025

Hydrological, Geological, and Biological Site Characterization of Breccia Pipe Uranium Deposits in Northern Arizona

Edited by Andrea E. Alpine

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (180 MB)


On July 21, 2009, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proposed a two-year withdrawal of about 1 million acres of Federal land near the Grand Canyon from future mineral entry. These lands are contained in three parcels: two parcels on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land to the north of the Grand Canyon (North and East Segregation Areas) and one on the Kaibab National Forest south of the Grand Canyon (South Segregation Area). The purpose of the two-year withdrawal is to examine the potential effects of restricting these areas from new mine development for the next 20 years. This proposed withdrawal initiated a period of study during which the effects of the withdrawal must be evaluated. At the direction of the Secretary, the U.S. Geological Survey began a series of short-term studies designed to develop additional information about the possible effects of uranium mining on the natural resources of the region. Dissolved uranium and other major, minor, and trace elements occur naturally in groundwater as the result of precipitation infiltrating from the surface to water-bearing zones and, presumably, to underlying regional aquifers. Discharges from these aquifers occur as seeps and springs throughout the region and provide valuable habitat and water sources for plants and animals. Uranium mining within the watershed may increase the amount of radioactive materials and heavy metals in the surface water and groundwater flowing into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River, and deep mining activities may increase mobilization of uranium through the rock strata into the aquifers. In addition, waste rock and ore from mined areas may be transported away from the mines by wind and runoff.

Revised August 2, 2010

First posted February 17, 2010

The larger PDF for SIR 2010-5025 combines all chapters.

To immediately access smaller PDFs of the individual chapters, use the links listed at the bottom of this webpage.

For additional information contact:

Pacific Southwest Regional Executive Office, USGS
3020 State University Drive East
Modoc Hall, Suite 3005
Sacramento, CA 95819-2632
Phone:  916-278-9551

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Alpine, Andrea E., ed., 2010, Hydrological, geological, and biological site characterization of breccia pipe uranium deposits in northern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5025, 353 p., 1 pl., scale 1:375,000.


Front Matter


Introduction By Andrea E. Alpine and Kristin M. Brown

Plate PDF (6.5 MB)


A. Uranium Resource Availability in Breccia Pipes in Northern Arizona By James K. Otton and Bradley S. Van Gosen


B. Effects of 1980s Uranium Mining in the Kanab Creek Area of Northern Arizona By James K. Otton, Tanya J. Gallegos, Bradley S. Van Gosen, Raymond H. Johnson,
Robert A. Zielinski, Susan M. Hall, L. Rick Arnold, and Douglas B. Yager


C. Historical and 2009 Water Chemistry of Wells, Perennial and Intermittent Streams, and Springs in Northern Arizona By Donald J. Bills, Fred D Tillman, David W. Anning, Ronald C. Antweiler, and Thomas F. Kraemer


D. Biological Pathways of Exposure and Ecotoxicity Values for Uranium and Associated Radionuclides By Jo Ellen Hinck, Greg Linder, Susan Finger, Edward Little, Donald Tillitt, and Wendy Kuhne

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