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Abstract: Texas Uranium

Barney C. McCasland, Jr.

Texas, the most important source of energy in the United States, came into the uranium picture late. Even with a slow start, the state now ranks near the top in uranium production. Uranium mineralization has been found in five geographic areas of Texas--trans-Pecos, Panhandle, Red River region, Llano uplift, and the South Texas Coastal Plains. This last region was considered the least favorable but is now the source of uranium production.

An airborne scintillometer survey for oil in late 1954 discovered an anomalous area near Tordilla Hill in northern Karnes County. This became the first commercial uranium producing area in Texas when mining started in 1958.

Subsequent exploration has delineated a band of uranium mineralization concentrated in upper Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary deposits that crop out 50 to 100 mi (80 to 160 km) inland and parallel with the Texas Gulf Coast. Mineralization has been located in many areas from northwest of Houston to Karnes County thence southwest to the Rio Grande and south into Mexico. Depths range from near surface to below 1,000 ft (304 m). The source of the uranium is believed to be the volcanic tuffs and ash beds of basal Miocene Catahoula Formation which crops out along the axis of the uranium belt.

Active mining has been conducted for more than 15 years, principally from open pits 30 to 200 ft (9 to 61 m) deep in Karnes and Live Oak Counties. Underground mining will not be feasible because of unconsolidated sediments and abundant ground water. In-situ leaching will become the prevalent mining method as now demonstrated with full-scale production near George West in Live Oak County and Pilot plants near Bruni in Webb County and on the west flank of Palangana dome in Duval County.

Uranium exploration is continuing in the Panhandle and in the Big Bend country of Texas.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90970©1977 AAPG Southwest Section Meeting, Abilene, Texas