Uranium: Geochemistry and Mineralogy

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 July 2024 | Viewed by 5946

Special Issue Editors

RSI EnTech, LLC, U.S., Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management, 2597 Legacy Way, Grand Junction, CO 81503, USA
Interests: uranium geochemistry; legacy uranium mill sites; contaminant hydrogeology; geochemical modeling; reactive transport modeling
U.S. Geological Survey, 6700 Edith Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, USA
Interests: uranium geochemistry; rock-water interaction; mining; geochemical modeling; water quality
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Uranium is an element that has complex geochemical reactions and forms a vast array of minerals. In this Special Issue, we hope to bring together a diverse set of researchers with one common theme: uranium. We invite papers on uranium geochemistry and mineralogy related to ore deposits, naturally occurring contamination, contamination and reclamation after mining or milling, biogeochemistry, and nuclear waste disposal. While these are broad cross-cutting topics, we hope this Special Issue can highlight the commonalities of uranium geochemistry and mineralogy that occur in a variety of settings. We invite any paper submissions that discuss the complexities of uranium, with specific interest in the following:

  • Formational processes and mineralogy of uranium ore and sub-ore deposits;
  • Studies on uranium fate and transport in the subsurface related to natural or anthropogenic contamination;
  • Innovative use and understanding of uranium geochemistry and mineralogy for characterizing contamination and determining appropriate reclamation approaches;
  • Innovative geochemical or reactive transport modelling to better understand and/or predict uranium mobility;
  • New research on uranium biogeochemistry;
  • New understanding of uranium mobility controls with variable geochemistry (e.g., uranium sorption under reducing conditions compared to mineral precipitation);
  • Advancing techniques to identify uranium mineral associations in natural and contaminated environments (e.g., scanning electron microscopy and fission-track radiography);
  • Attenuation of uranium in the environment after nuclear waste disposal.

Dr. Raymond H. Johnson
Dr. Johanna Blake
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • uranium
  • geochemistry
  • biogeochemistry
  • mineralogy
  • sorption
  • mineral precipitation
  • fate and transport
  • mobility
  • reactive transport modeling
  • geochemical modeling

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 16017 KiB  
Article
Single-Well Push–Pull Tracer Test Analyses to Determine Aquifer Reactive Transport Parameters at a Former Uranium Mill Site (Grand Junction, Colorado)
Minerals 2023, 13(2), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13020228 - 04 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1911
Abstract
At a former uranium mill site where tailings have been removed, prior work has determined several potential ongoing secondary uranium sources. These include locations with uranium sorbed to organic carbon, uranium in the unsaturated zone, and uranium associated with the presence of gypsum. [...] Read more.
At a former uranium mill site where tailings have been removed, prior work has determined several potential ongoing secondary uranium sources. These include locations with uranium sorbed to organic carbon, uranium in the unsaturated zone, and uranium associated with the presence of gypsum. To better understand uranium mobility controls at the site, four single-well push–pull tests (with a drift phase) were completed with the goal of deriving aquifer flow and contaminant transport parameters for inclusion in a future sitewide reactive transport model. This goes beyond the traditional use of a constant sorption distribution coefficient (Kd) and allows for the evaluation of alternative remedial injection fluids, which can produce variable Kd values. Dispersion was first removed from the resulting data to determine possible reactions before conducting reactive transport simulations. These initial analyses indicated the potential need to include cation exchange, uranium sorption, and gypsum dissolution. A reactive transport model using multiple layers to account for partially penetrating wells was completed using the PHT-USG reactive transport modeling code and calibrated using PEST. The model results quantify the hydraulic conductivity and dispersion parameters using the injected tracer concentrations. Uranium sorption, cation exchange, and gypsum dissolution parameters were quantified by comparing the simulated versus observed geochemistry. All simulations required some cation exchange and calcite equilibrium, and one simulation required gypsum dissolution to improve the model fit for calcium and sulfate. Uranium sorption parameters were not strongly influenced by the other parameter values but were highly influenced by uranium concentrations during the drift phase, with possible kinetic rate limitations. Thus, a future recommendation for such push–pull tests is to collect more geochemical data during the drift phase. The final uranium sorption parameters were within the range of values determined from prior column testing. The flow and transport parameters derived from these single-well push–pull tests will provide initial parameters for any future sitewide reactive transport model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Uranium: Geochemistry and Mineralogy)
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14 pages, 4587 KiB  
Article
Geochemical Conditions and Factors Controlling the Distribution of Major, Trace, and Rare Elements in Sul Hamed Granitic Rocks, Southeastern Desert, Egypt
Minerals 2022, 12(10), 1245; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12101245 - 29 Sep 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1634
Abstract
Egypt is mainly covered by ophiolitic rocks, muscovite, and two mica granites, in addition to different types of acidic and basic dikes. Our field observations indicated that El Sela granites were subjected to alteration types such as silicification, kaolinization, and hematitization, which is [...] Read more.
Egypt is mainly covered by ophiolitic rocks, muscovite, and two mica granites, in addition to different types of acidic and basic dikes. Our field observations indicated that El Sela granites were subjected to alteration types such as silicification, kaolinization, and hematitization, which is associated with uranium mineralization. Petrographic investigations clarified that these rocks were affected by saussiritization, muscovitization, and silicifications as the main alteration types associated with uranium mineralization (uranophane and autunite). We carried out chemical analyses of our samples for major oxides and trace and rare earth elements using ICP-OES and ICP-MS. The studied altered granites had high silica, titanium, and phosphorous as major components, with enhanced amounts of trace elements such as Nb, Ta, Zn, Mo, Pb, and Re, in addition to REE, especially light ones. The average REE content was higher than that of worldwide granites with LREE enrichment. One sample had a strong M-type tetrad effect in the fourth type; other samples had weak W-type in the third type, indicating the effect of hydrothermal alteration processes in the altered granites. This was confirmed by calculating the ratios of most isovalents that deviated from the chondritic ratio in many values. Variation diagrams of U and some trace elements illustrated that U had a weak positive correlation with Y and a strong positive correlation with gold, while it had weak to moderate negative correlation with Hf and Zr/U. In addition, uranium had a weakly defined correlation with the other trace elements, indicating a weak to moderate effect of magmatic processes, while the post-magmatic processes surficial or underground water greatly influenced the redistribution of uranium and other elements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Uranium: Geochemistry and Mineralogy)
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16 pages, 2183 KiB  
Article
Pilot Scale Validation of a Chemical Process for Uranium, Cesium, and Mercury Recovery from Cemented Radioactive Wastes
Minerals 2022, 12(5), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12050594 - 07 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1447
Abstract
The medical isotope (Mo-99) production at Chalk River Laboratory involves the dissolution of irradiated isotope targets prior to the extraction of Mo-99. This process generates a waste that is cemented in 5-gallon containers and transferred to a waste-management facility for intermediate storage. Over [...] Read more.
The medical isotope (Mo-99) production at Chalk River Laboratory involves the dissolution of irradiated isotope targets prior to the extraction of Mo-99. This process generates a waste that is cemented in 5-gallon containers and transferred to a waste-management facility for intermediate storage. Over the past decades, a large number of five-gallon containers of cemented radioactive waste (CRW) were produced, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) must develop a process to convert this material to a permanent waste form. Research has been undertaken to develop an innovative method for the recovery of U, Hg, and Cs from surrogate cemented radioactive waste (SCRW). This paper presents the pilot scale validation of the operating parameters prior to the demonstration scale testing. Leaching tests at the pilot scale were conducted with 5 kg of SCRW to validate the main operating parameters and evaluate the reuse of the leaching solution. The mean solubilization yields obtained at the pilot scale were 81.9 ± 8.3% for Cs, 99.0 ± 1% for U, and 94.9 ± 4.5% for Hg. Columns with 100 g of KNiFC-PAN and 250 g of Lewatit TP214 allow for the separation of Cs and Hg from 60 L of leaching solution without U loss. Flow rates of 12.5 BV/h and 25 BV/h were suitable to achieve 99% separation of Hg and Cs, respectively. For the Hg resin, the capacity reached 23.4 mg/g, and the capacity for the Cs resin reached 0.79 mg/g. The pilot scale U extraction results showed that the U adsorption is selective, with a breakthrough at 36 BV (capacity for U of 3.70 mg/g). Uranium elution with 1 M Na2CO3 exceeded 99%, and subsequent precipitation with NaOH achieved 99% recovery. SEM data confirmed the high purity of the U solids produced as sodium di-uranate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Uranium: Geochemistry and Mineralogy)
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