Grand Junction and the Manhattan Project
The carnotite deposits in the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation in southwestern Colorado and in southeastern Utah had been mined for radium, vanadium and minor uranium since the 1910's. During vanadium mining, the uranium in the ores was discarded in the mill tailings. The Manhattan Project was the code name of a project to develop an atomic bomb during World War II. It was under the direction of the Army's Manhattan Engineer District (MED). After making a survey of nine vanadium mills in December 1942, the MED concluded that the tailings were the best source of domestic uranium. Grand Junction became the center of this secret operation. By 1946, 2,698,000 pounds of uranium oxide had been produced from Colorado Plateau material.This represented 14 percent of the total uranium acquired by the entire project. A civilian geological contractor, based in Grand Junction, evaluated the uranium resources of the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation for the MED. On January 1,1947, all functions and facilities of the MED became the new U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, with domestic uranium procurement headquarters in Grand Junction.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90156©2012 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Grand Junction, Colorado, 9-12 September 2012