Uranium in Washington State: proven deposits and exploration targets

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 804, 1979

P. CLINTON MILNE, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources, Olympia, WA, U.S.A.

Uranium mines in Washington State include the producing Midnite and Sherwood mines and several mined-out deposits, the most productive of which was the Daybreak mine. The Midnite mine is generally classified as a hydrothermal deposit consisting of tabular orebodies in Precambrian pelitic and calcareous metasedimentary host rocks. The host rocks occur as roof pendants in a Cretaceous porphyritic quartz monzonite intrusive; the quartz monzonite averages 12 ppm U308. The uranium deposit appears to have undergone a complex genesis, involving a series of depositional and enrichment stages.The Sherwood uranium deposit, approximately 4 miles south of the Midnite mine, occurs near the bottom of a basal Late Cretaceous to Paleocene arkosic conglomerate. The conglomerate lies nonconformably on the porphyritic quartz monzonite that is associated with the Midnite deposit. The Sherwood and Midnite uranium deposits may have had a similar genetic history linked by a common uraniferous pluton source, ground-water action, and/or leaching of uranium-rich ash flows from now-eroded, overlying, Eocene volcanics.The Daybreak deposit, in northeastern Spokane County, consists entirely of secondary uranium mineralization (meta-autunite) in a quartz monzonite pluton. Mineralization is confined to a low-angle fault zone and is most highly concentrated at the intersection of primary and secondary shears. Both hydrothermal and ground-water origins are feasible.Besides the Midnite-Sherwood area, 14 other areas in the western Okanogan Highlands physiographic province and Cascades region have favourable characteristics for uranium potential. Criteria include the existence of uranium occurrences, Tertiary basin sediments with intercalated volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks, favourable geochemical data, alkaline plutons associated with uranium occurrences or borders of Tertiary basins, and structural controls.
Keywords: Exploration techniques, Mineral exploration, Uranium exploration, Washington State, Midnite mine, Sherwood mine, Daybreak mine, Okanogan Highlands, Cascade region.