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Photograph of Uranium-bearing rock.  Oxidized Uranium minerals are bright yellow.

Uranium Resources and Environmental Investigations

News


Article Thumbnail Image A variety of sediment and rock samples were collected in and around Tuba City Open Dump in 2008. Whole rock geochemistry has already been reported for sediment/rock/dune samples in Johnson and others (2008). Many of these samples were sieved in order to get grain-size distributions. The resulting...
Friday, May 31, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image  The Schwartzwalder deposit is the largest known vein type uranium deposit in the United States. Located about eight miles northwest of Golden, Colorado it occurs in Proterozoic metamorphic rocks and was formed by hydrothermal fluid flow, mineralization, and deformation during the Laramide Orog...
Thursday, April 18, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image The U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA) joined with the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to analyze the world uranium supply and demand balance. To evaluate short-term primary supply (0–15 years), the analysis focused on Reasonably Assured...
Monday, March 25, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image USGS Scientist Susan Hall was elected chair of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Nuclear Energy Agency/International Atomic Energy Agency’s Uranium Group during their 48th meeting in Kirovograd, Ukraine, which was held August 21-24, 2012.
Friday, September 28, 2012  Type: Press Release

Article Thumbnail Image Groundwater concentration data and solid-phase leachate data were collected for samples taken in and around Tuba City Open Dump, Tuba City, Arizona, in 2008. Sample locations, sample collection and analytical methods, and previous geochemical results are provided in Johnson and others (2008)...
Monday, June 25, 2012  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Studies of the natural environment in the Grants Mineral Belt in northwestern New Mexico have been conducted since the 1930s; however, few such investigations predate uranium mining and milling operations, which began in the early 1950s. This report provides an annotated bibliography of reports that...
Monday, June 27, 2011  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image The Fry Canyon uranium/copper project site in San Juan County, southeastern Utah, was affected by the historical (1957–68) processing of uranium and copper-uranium ores. Relict uranium tailings and related ponds, and a large copper heap-leach pile at the site represent point sources of uranium...
Wednesday, September 01, 2010  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image As part of the Department of the Interior’s evaluation of whether to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims, the United States Geological Survey today released a report on uranium resources and uranium mining impacts in the area.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Felsic volcanic rocks have long been considered a primary source of uranium for many kinds of uranium deposits, but volcanogenic uranium deposits themselves have generally not been important resources...
Friday, January 22, 2010  Type: Publication

Overview

Kanab North breccia-pipe U mine, northwestern Arizona, August, 2009.
Kanab North breccia-pipe U mine,
northwestern Arizona, August, 2009.
Photo courtesy of Don Bills, USGS.

From 1946 to 1995 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was involved in understanding uranium geology, geochemistry, and resources. Much of that work was done on behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Energy Research and Development Administration, and the Department of Energy. With the resurgence of uranium exploration and mining activities in the United States over the past few years, a substantial need for ready access to existing data in the files of the USGS' Energy Program has increased. The following are highlights of this Uranium website:

In addition to publications and databases, the USGS conducts uranium environmental studies and serves as a valuable platform for outreach including ask a scientist about uranium service.

This webpage will be a portal to access the wealth of Uranium research from the USGS and is evolving. Future website components will include:

  • Extensive photo-library of mining sites, sample locations, field studies, etc.

 

Research

This map shows the equivalent uranium (eU) concentrations in surface soils and rocks across the U.S
Equivalent uranium (eU) concentrations in soils and rocks in the U.S. (USGS DDS-09)

Uranium Environmental Issues

Uranium and its decay products and associated trace elements create human health and environmental hazards wherever they occur in unusually elevated levels. Although uranium mill tailings have been the subject of extensive investigation and cleanup at mill sites across the U.S., uranium mine wastes remain at a number of sites throughout the western United States and constitute a significant hazard for casual visitors to the site from gamma exposure and inhalation of windblown dust. [+]

Visitors to underground uranium operations, which are common in many recreational areas of the west, have been exposed to extreme levels of radon. These hazards have been recognized by responsible Federal and State agencies and reclamation of many uranium mine sites in the west and closure of undergound mine openings has occurred. However, the extent and success of these programs has been controlled by the availability of funds under such programs as the Surface Mine Reclamation Act. The availability of these funds varies from State to State. Many areas of some western States continue to have exposed unreclaimed uranium mine wastes at former mining sites. The leaching of radionuclides and other elements by precipitation and the erosion of waste piles by wind and runoff are primary mechanisms by which adjacent soils, water, and ecosystems are impacted by uranium mine waste piles, yet very few studies of waste piles have occurred to document whether such processes create hazards beyond the immediate vicinity of the piles.

The USEPA released guidelines for uranium mine waste cleanup. In 2006 they published two volumes on the topic, a background volume and a risk assessment volume. These documents are based on the best available data but detailed studies that could further support the waste assessment and risk assessment are limited.
As recreational uses of older uranium mining areas increase and as residential areas expand into former uranium mine and prospect areas such as those in the Uravan Mineral belt and the Front Range of Colorado human exposures will increase. Evaluating uranium mine waste sites will assist Federal and State land management and environmental officials in assessing hazards and prioritizing needed cleanup.

Related to uranium mining environmental issues is the natural radiochemical and radiometric background for rocks, soils, and waters in the U.S. in general and uranium mining areas in particular. Cleanup standards for uranium mine sites should be based on the local background radiochemical and radiometric setting which is often poorly known. Moreover, environmental and health officials across the U.S. have been surprised when anomalously high levels of radon and uranium in domestic drinking water or indoor radon turn up in areas known by geologists to be uranium-enriched. Oftentimes nearby industrial activities are suspected as sources for contamination. Studies that assist local, state, and Federal health and environment officials in properly understanding these occurrences, assessing natural and anthropogenic sources, and then communicating the hazards associated with these occurrences are needed.

Some data are directly relevant to understanding the natural background for radionuclides in the U.S. Another effort of the National Uranium Resource Evaluation program of the Department of Energy was the national airborne radiometric and aeromagnetic reconnaissance survey which gathered gamma-ray data from almost all of the U.S. and Alaska. The USGS also became the archival agency for these data and much of the data has been published in the USGS Digital Data Series 9 (not available online, email here to request a copy).

Data


Uranium Geochemical Data

During the late 1970s and early 1980s the Department of Energy, with assistance from the national laboratories and the U.S. Geological Survey, conducted a uranium resource assessment of the U.S., including Alaska (the National Uranium Resource Evaluation or NURE program). As part of this assessment, a hydrogeochemical and stream sediment reconnaissance (HSSR) survey was conducted of nearly the entire U.S. Although originally intended to assist uranium exploration and resource estimates, these data have had a wide variety of uses in exploring for other minerals and providing geochemical baseline information for environmental assessments. The U.S. Geological Survey became the archivist for this data under an agreement with the Department of Energy and has since placed a reformatted version of the entire dataset online. Information about this dataset and access to its components can be found at http://tin.er.usgs.gov/nure/sediment/ (compiled from USGS OFR 97-0492). A great deal of additional mineral resource, geological, geochemical, and geophysical data about the U.S. can be found at http://tin.er.usgs.gov/.

U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Drill Hole Database

In the 1950’s and 1969’s, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted a massive exploration program assisting private industry in locating uranium. As part of this program, a number of drilling projects were completed, testing for mineable uranium deposits. Paper and Mylar logs recording down hole lithologic and radiologic information were constructed during this exploration program. In 1974 when the AEC was abolished, these logs were retained by the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, and in 1977 transferred to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Read More...[+]

The logs were retained in the DOE Grand Junction, Colorado Field Office until 1987 when the logs were transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) offices in the Denver Federal Center. In 2012, USGS began scanning the logs into digital format for distribution to the public as part of a Department of the Interior Data Rescue project.  Approximately half of the logs have been scanned and some have been georeferenced. As more logs are scanned, they will be uploaded to this site. Georeferencing the logs proved difficult as the log headers used drill project-specific coordinates with no information about projection or reference to longitude and latitude. Using the Data and Map view search options below, logs scanned in Adobe PDF format can be retrieved. Selected references describing the drill projects or mining districts drilled by the AEC are tabulated in the References view below. Where possible, the more obscure publications about the AEC drill projects that might be difficult to locate were scanned and are available as downloadable PDF’s. Questions about the Atomic Energy Commission drill hole database should be directed to Susan Hall, susanhall@usgs.gov, 303-236-1656. Click here for selected data source references.


Data View (CLICK on IMAGE TO OPEN)
Data View (CLICK on IMAGE TO OPEN)
Search for well logs using an interactive data table. First, filter you search by uranium district then sort, re-order, or search the results until you find the log you are looking for (entire log collection).

Data View (CLICK on IMAGE TO OPEN)

Search for well logs using an interactive data table. First, filter you search by uranium district then sort, re-order, or search the results until you find the log you are looking for (entire log collection).
 
Download Selected References

 

Page Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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