Uranium Deposits on the Navajo Nation

This page was written by Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

Uranium is a very dense metal which can be used as an abundant source of concentrated energy. It occurs in most rocks in concentrations of 2 to 4 parts per million and is as common in the earth's crust as tin, tungsten and molybdenum (What is Uranium? (Website Offline)(Archive Link)).

There are three main types of uranium deposits (more info) including unconformity-type deposits, paleoplacer deposits and sandstone-type (roll front) deposits (Figure 1). Sandstone-type deposits are abundant in sedimentary rocks of the Colorado Plateau and found on the Navajo Nation. This type of uranium deposit is easier and cheaper to mine than the other types because the uranium is found near the surface of the Earth. These deposits formed when oxidized groundwater that had leached uranium from surface rocks flowed down into aquifers, where it was reduced to precipitate uraninite, the primary ore mineral of uranium. In some deposits, like those found on the Navajo Nation, reduction took place along curved zones know as roll-fronts, which represent the transition from oxidized to reduced conditions in the aquifer ([Kesler, 1994] ).

To further investigate uranium deposits on the Navajo Nation, follow the links below.


Resources containing information about uranium.

Sandstone Type (Roll Front) Uranium Deposits

Resources containing information about roll front uranium deposits.

For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.