Impact of incipient weathering on uranium migration in granitic waste rock piles from former U mines (Limousin, France)

Abstract : This study investigates the impact of incipient weathering on uranium (U) migration at the surface of granitic waste rock piles from former U mines in Limousin (France) operated half a century ago. We used a multi-scale mineralogical and geochemical approach to evaluate the impact of incipient weathering on uranium mobility in a chaotic waste rock pile. The surficial part of five former mines located in the “La Crouzille” and “La Creuse” mining districts was investigated. Four groups of samples were defined based on field observations and mineralogy, granites, lamprophyres, hydrothermally altered rocks and weathering products. Petrology, mineralogy and geochemistry investigations show the importance of mineralogical and geochemical transformations during incipient weathering over a few decades. The Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA) is successfully used to assess the weathering state of samples in the waste rock pile chaotic deposit. The mean CIA value is around 60 for unweathered/incipiently weathered granites whereas highly weathered samples have CIA around 70. This means that no significant major element loss occurs in the granitic rocks suffering incipient weathering. Various micron-size secondary U minerals consist in a large diversity of oxidized uranyl minerals (uranophane, uranyl sulfate, curite, autunite and other uranyl phosphates), with dominant uranyl phosphates, indicating local U mobility in the waste rock pile. Autunites micromorphology indicates different degrees of weathering of the samples in which it crystallizes. U is primarily concentrated in the clay fraction (< 2 μm), associated with secondary minerals from granite alteration (clay minerals such as smectite and vermiculite, Fe-oxides and phosphate minerals) and, to a limited extent, relict primary minerals. These weathering products contribute to U(VI) stabilization under oxidizing conditions.
Type de document :
Article dans une revue
Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Elsevier, 2017, 〈10.1016/j.gexplo.2017.08.010〉
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A. Kanzari, M. Gerard, F. Boekhout, L. Galoisy, G. Calas, et al.. Impact of incipient weathering on uranium migration in granitic waste rock piles from former U mines (Limousin, France). Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Elsevier, 2017, 〈10.1016/j.gexplo.2017.08.010〉. 〈hal-01596042〉

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