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Conditions for uranium biomineralization during the formation of the Zoovch Ovoo roll-front-type uranium deposit in East Gobi Basin, Mongolia

Abstract : The Zoovch Ovoo uranium roll-front-type deposit is hosted in the Sainshand Formation, a Late Cretaceous siliciclastic reservoir, which constitutes the upper part of the post-rift infilling of the Mesozoic East Gobi Basin in SE Mongolia. The Sainshand Formation consists of unconsolidated medium-grained sand, silt and clay intervals deposited in fluvial-lacustrine settings. The uranium deposit is confined within a 60-80 m thick siliciclastic sequence inside aquifer-driven systems. The overall system experienced shallow burial and was never subjected to temperatures higher than 40°C. This study proposes a comprehensive metallogenic model for this uranium deposit. Sedimentological and mineralogical observations from drill core samples to the microscopic scale (optical and Scanning Electron Microscopy) together with in situ geochemistry of late-formed phases (Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Electron Probe Microanalysis, Fourier Transform-Infrared Spectroscopy) were considered for the reconstruction of the main stages of U trapping. In the mineralized zone, the uranium ore is expressed as Ca-enriched uraninite (UO 2) and less commonly as Ca-enriched phospho-coffinite (U, P)SiO 4. Trapping mechanisms include i) complexation (i.e. uranyl-carboxyl complexes), ii) adsorption on organic or clay particles) and iii) reduction by pyrite and by bacterial activity to amorphous uraninite. In all cases, the organic matter plays either the role of trap for uranium or nutrient for bacteria that can trap uranium through their metabolism. The shallow burial diagenesis conditions do not allow direct reduction of U(VI) by organic carbon. The δ 34 S values of the iron disulfide are very diverse, fluctuating in extreme cases between-50 to +50‰, with an average δ 34 S value for framboidal pyrite at 2‰, and-20‰ for euhedral pyrite. The positive and negative values reflect close versus open fractionation systems, while bacterial sulphate reduction (BSR) is active during the whole diagenetic history of the deposit as an essential source of reduced sulfur. Therefore, using detrital organic matter as a carbon source, microorganisms play a significant role in uranium trapping, either as a direct reducing agent for uranium or pyrite formation, which will trap uranium redox driven epigenetic processes.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 9:55:25 AM
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Dimitrios Rallakis, Raymond Michels, Michel Cathelineau, Olivier Parize, Marc Brouand. Conditions for uranium biomineralization during the formation of the Zoovch Ovoo roll-front-type uranium deposit in East Gobi Basin, Mongolia. Ore Geology Reviews, Elsevier, 2021, 138, pp.104351. ⟨10.1016/j.oregeorev.2021.104351⟩. ⟨hal-03359300⟩



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