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Autunite-Group Minerals and Their Paragenesis from the Sheared Granite of Gabal El Sela, South Eastern Desert, Egypt

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Document pages: 23 pages

Abstract: G. El Sela is located in the Southern Eastern Desert of Egypt cropping as two parts, occupied by monzogranites that were categorized as biotite granite, muscovite granite and two mica granites. The northern part is more significant according its high concentrations of uranium that controlled by complicated structure regime; faulting, infrastructures and shearing are the most common structural criteria of this part. The Egyptian Nuclear Materials Authority (NMA) mined this part to produce the uranium ore. The previous mineralogical studies indicated that this granite was dominated by primary uranium minerals (pitchblende and coffinite) and secondary minerals belong to the autunite group (autunite, metautunite, phurcalite) in addition to uranophane. In the present work, petrographic and mineralogical studies are applied for the granites using the polarized and stereo microscopes and followed by electron microscope and XRD. The result of the microscopic examinations revealed the tectonic regime controlling the radioactivity and recognized the sodic autunite (meta-natroautunite) beside the pre-mentioned autunite group minerals completing the paragenetic sequrnce of these minerals. In this study, it is concluded that the sheared biotite granite is monzogranite originated during the episode of the continental plate collision (syncollision). The study finished to presence of two main types of the alteration corresponding to the two high levels of radioactivity (moderate and anomalous). The first is the thermal alteration (saussiritization, sericitization, kaolinization, silicification and hematization) and the second is the chemical transformation (oxidation, dehydration, ion substitutions and confusion) responsible for formation of the secondary uranium minerals. The temperature needed for the thermal alteration is sourced by the hydrothermal solutions, while the temperature needed for the uranium minerals transformation may be generated during the episode of the continental plate collision (syncollision). Paragenesis of these minerals indicates that they represent a series of uranyl phosphate minerals (autunite group) with paragenetic sequence starting by autunite (calcic uranyl phosphate) and ends by meta-natroautunite (sodic uranyl phosphate). An advanced process of dehydration accompanies the process of mineral transformation from autunite to meta-natroautunite leading to formation of the anhydrous uranyl mineral (phurcalite) formed by oxidation and dehydration of autunite. Meta-autunite is recorded as a transitional mineral composed of sodic-calcic uranyl phosphate. Uranophane is created by thermal confusion of autunite with the silica.

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