Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 209–219 | Cite as

The chemical and isotopic record of rock-water interaction in the Sherman Granite, Wyoming and Colorado

  • R. A. Zielinski
  • Z. E. Peterman
  • J. S. Stuckless
  • J. N. Rosholt
  • I. T. Nkomo


Chemical, isotopic, radiographic, and rock-leaching data are combined to describe the effects of rock-water interactions in core samples of petrographically fresh, 1.43 b.y.-old Sherman Granite. The data serve to identify sensitive indicators of incipient alteration and to estimate the degree, pathways, and timing of element mobilization. Unfractured core samples of Sherman Granite are remarkably fresh by most chemical or isotopic criteria, but incipient alteration is indicated by the abundance and distribution of uranium and the degree of radioactive equilibration of uranium with its decay products. Uranium abundances which are out of equilibrium with lead decay products indicate remobilization of a portion (3 to 60 percent) of original uranium in late Phanerozoic time. Association of uranium with minor but pervasive secondary alteration products also indicates some remobilization. The amount of apparent uranium mobility in unfractured Sherman Granite (3 to 60 percent) is small compared to the results of similar studies of Archean granites from nearby localities. Chemical and isotopic data evaluated as a function of core-sample depth suggest a uranium migrational pathway involving near-surface leaching and reconcentration at depth. Movement of solutions through the upper 200 ft (60 m) of Sherman Granite is fracture controlled, and brecciated granite shows more obvious petrographic, chemical, and isotopic evidence of alteration and multi-element redistribution. Laboratory experiments using freshly crushed Sherman Granite confirm that uranium is leached in preference to elements such as Si, Mg, Ca, and K, and that leachable uranium is situated close to the solid-liquid interface; perhaps as uranium along grain boundaries, in crystal defects, or on cleavage traces of minerals that exclude uranium from their structure.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arden JW, Gale NH (1974) Separation of trace amounts of uranium and thorium and their determination by mass spectrometic isotope dilution. Anal Chem 46:687–691Google Scholar
  2. Davis SN, DeWiest RJM (1970) Hydrogeology. J Wiley and Sons Inc, 463 pGoogle Scholar
  3. Emslie RF (1978) Anorthosite massifs, rapakivi granites, and late Proterozoic rifting of North America. Precambrian Research 7:1–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fleischer RL (1980) Isotopic disequilibrium of uranium: alpha recoil damage and preferential solution effects. Science 207:979–981Google Scholar
  5. Forbes EA, Posnev AM, Quirk JP (1976) The specific adsorption of divalent Cd, Co, Cu, Pb and Zn in geothite. Soil Sci 27:154–166Google Scholar
  6. Harmon RS, Ivanovich M (in press) Uranium — series disequilibrium — application to environmental problems in the Earth Sciences. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Harshman EN (1972) Geology and uranium deposits, Shirley Basin area, Wyoming. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 745:82 pGoogle Scholar
  8. Hedge CE (1978) Geochronology. In: GL Snyder, Intrusive rocks northeast of Steamboat Springs, Park Range, Colorado. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 1041:17–19Google Scholar
  9. Hills FA, Gast PW, Houston RS, Swainback IG (1968) Precambrian geochronology of the Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming. Bull Geol Soc Am 79:1757–1784Google Scholar
  10. Hills FA Armstrong RL (1974) Geochronology of Precambrian rocks in the Laramie Range and implications for the tectonic framework of Precambrian of southern Wyoming. Precambrian Research 1:213–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hills RA, Houston RS (1979) Early Proterozoic tectonics of the central Rocky Mountains, North America. Contrib Geol, Wyoming Uranium Issue II 17:89–109Google Scholar
  12. Hodge EW, Owen LB (1973) Gravity interpretation of the Laramie Anorthosite Complex. Geol Soc Am Bull 84:1451–1464Google Scholar
  13. Ludwig KR (1979) A program in Hewlett-Packard BASIC for X-Y plotting and line-fitting of isotopic and other data. US Geol Surv OF Rep 79-1641:33 pGoogle Scholar
  14. Ludwig KR, Silver LT (1977) Lead isotope inhomogeneity in Precambrian igneous K-feldspars. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 41:1457–1471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ludwig KR, Stuckless JS (1978) Uranium-lead isotopic systematics and apparent ages of zircons and other minerals in Precambrian granitic rocks, Granite Mountains, Wyoming. Contrib Mineral Petrol 65:243–254Google Scholar
  16. Murray JW (1975) The interaction of metal ions at the manganese dioxide-solution interface. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 39:505–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nkomo IT, Stuckless JS, Thaden RE, Rosholt JN (1978) Petrology and uranium mobility of a granite of early Precambrian age from the Owl Creek Mountains, Wyoming. Wyoming Geol Soc Guidebook, 30th Ann Field Conf: 335–346Google Scholar
  18. Nkomo IT, Rosholt JN, Dooley JR (1979) U-Th-Pb systematics in surface and drill core samples of Precambrian basement rocks from the Laramie Mountains, Wyoming. Earth Sci Bull 12:1–14Google Scholar
  19. Osmond JK, Cowart JB (1976) The theory and uses of natural uranium isotopic variations in hydrology. Atomic Energy Rev 14:621–679Google Scholar
  20. Peterman ZE, Hedge CE, Braddock (1968) Age of Precambrian events in the northeastern Front Range, Colorado. J Geophys Res 73:2277–2296Google Scholar
  21. Peterman ZE, Hildreth RA (1978) Reconnaissance geology and geochronology of the Precambrian of the Granite Mountains, Wyoming. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 1055:22 pGoogle Scholar
  22. Peterman ZE, Doe BR, Bartel JA (1967) Data on the rock GSP-1 (Granodiorite) and the isotope-dilution method of analysis for Rb and Sr. In: Geol Surv Res 1967 US Geol Sur Prof Pap 575 B:B 181-B 186Google Scholar
  23. Pratt HR, Swolfs HS, Brace WF, Black AD, Handin VW (1977) Elastic and transport properties of an in situ jointed granite. Int J Rock Mechanics Mining Sci 14:35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rosholt JN (1980) Uranium-trend dating of Quaternary sediments. US Geol Surv OF Rep 80-1087: 68 pGoogle Scholar
  25. Rosholt JN (1980) Uranium and thorium disequilibrium in zeolitically altered rock. Nucl Technol 51:143–146Google Scholar
  26. Rosholt JN, Bartel JA (1969) Uranium, thorium and lead systematics in the Granite Mountains, Wyoming. Earth Planet Sci Lett 7:141–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosholt JN, Zartman RE, Nkomo IT (1973) Lead isotope systematics and uranium depletion in the Granite Mountains, Wyoming. Bull Geol Soc Am 84:989–1002Google Scholar
  28. Shapiro L (1975) Rapid analysis of silicate, carbonate, and phosphate rocks. US Geol Surv Bull 1401:76 pGoogle Scholar
  29. Silver LT, Bickford ME, Van Schmus WR, Anderson JL, Anderson TH, Medaris LG Jr (1977) The 1.4–1.5 b.y. transcontinental anorgenic plutonic perforation of North America. Geol Soc Am Abstr with Progs 9:1176–1177Google Scholar
  30. Smedes HW (1980) Rationale for geologic isolation of high-level radioactive waste, and assessment of the suitability of crystalline rocks. US Geol Surv OF Rep 80–1065:55 pGoogle Scholar
  31. Snyder GL (1968) Intrusive rocks northeast of Steamboat Springs, Park Range, Colorado. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 1041:42 pGoogle Scholar
  32. Stacey JS, Kramer JS (1975) Approximation of terrestrial lead isotope evolution by a two stage model. Earth Planet Sci Lett 26:207–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Steiger RN, Jager E (1977) Subcommission geochronology: Convention of the use of decay constants in geo and cosmochronology. Earth Planet Sci Lett 36:359–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Stuckless JS, Ferriera CP (1976) Labile uranium in granitic rocks. In International Symposium on Exploration of Uranium Ore Deposits, Proc, Vienna, 1976 Int Atomic Energy Agency Techn Rep Ser 117–130Google Scholar
  35. Stuckless JS, Nkomo IT (1978) Uranium-lead isotope systematics in uraniferous alkali-rich granites from the Granite Mountains, Wyoming: implications for uranium source rocks. Econ Geol 73:427–441Google Scholar
  36. Stuckless JS, Nkomo IT (1980) Preliminary investigation of U-Th-Pb systematics in uranium-bearing minerals from two granitic rocks from the Granite Mountains, Wyoming. Econ Geol 75:289–295Google Scholar
  37. Tatsumoto M (1966) Isotopic composition of lead in volcanic rocks from Hawaii, Iwo Jima and Japan. Geophys Res 71:1721–1733Google Scholar
  38. Tweto Ogden (1977) Nomenclature of Precambrian rocks in Colorado. US Geol Surv Bull 1422-D:D1-D22Google Scholar
  39. Tweto O (1979) Geologic map of Colorado. US Geol Sur, Scale 1∶500,000Google Scholar
  40. Van Der Weijden CH, Arthur RC, Langmuir D (1976) Sorption of uranyl by hematite: theoretical and geochemical implications. Geol Soc Am Abstr with Progs 8:1152Google Scholar
  41. York D (1969) Least-squares fitting of a straight line with correlated ends. Earth Planet Sci Lett 5:320–324Google Scholar
  42. Zartman RE (1979) Uranium, thorium and lead concentrations and lead isotopic composition of biotite granodiorite (sample 9527-2b) from LASL drill hole GT-2. Los Alamos Sci Lab Rep LA-7923-MS:18 pGoogle Scholar
  43. Zielinski RA, Rosholt JN (1978) Uranium in waters and aquifer rocks at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada, US Geol Surv J Res 6:489–498Google Scholar
  44. Zielinski RA (1979) Uranium mobility during interaction of rhyolitic obsidian, perlite and felsite with alkaline carbonate solutions: T= 120° C, P=210 kg/cm2. Chem Geol 27:47–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Zielinski
    • 1
  • Z. E. Peterman
    • 1
  • J. S. Stuckless
    • 1
  • J. N. Rosholt
    • 1
  • I. T. Nkomo
    • 1
  1. 1.Denver Federal CenterUS Geological SurveyDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations