Paleozoic Unconformities Favorable for Uranium Concentration in Northern Appalachian Basin
John M. Dennison
Unconformities can redistribute uranium from protore rock as ground water moves through poorly consolidated strata beneath the erosion surface, or later moves along the unconformity. Groundwater could migrate farther than in present-day lithified Paleozoic strata in the Appalachian basin, now locally deformed by the Taconic and Allegheny orogenies. Several paleoaquifer systems could have developed uranium geochemical cells. Sandstone mineralogy, occurrences of fluvial strata, and reduzate facies are important factors. Other possibilities include silcrete developed during desert exposure, and uranium concentrated in paleokarst.
Thirteen unconformities are evaluated to determine favorable areas for uranium concentration. Cambrian Potsdam sandstone (New York) contains arkoses and possible silcretes just above crystalline basement. Unconformities involving beveled sandstones and possible fluvial strata include Cambrian Hardyston sandstone (New Jersey), Cambrian Potsdam Sandstone (New York), Ordovician Oswego and Juniata formations (Pennsylvania and New York), Silurian Medina Group (New York), and Silurian Vernon, High Falls, and Longwood formations (New York and New Jersey). Devonian Catskill Formation is beveled by Pennsylvanian strata (New York and Pennsylvania). The pre-Pennsylvanian unconformity also bevels Lower Mississippian Pocono, Knapp, and Waverly strata (Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio), truncates U per Mississippian Mauch Chunk Formation (Pennsylvania), and forms paleokarst on Mississippian Loyalhanna Limestone (Pennsylvania) and Maxville Limestone (Ohio). Strata associated with these unconformities contain several reports of uranium.
Unconformities unfavorable for uranium concentration occur beneath the Middle Ordovician (New York), Middle Devonian (Ohio and New York), and Upper Devonian (Ohio and New York); these involve marine strata overlying marine strata and probably much submarine erosion.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.