The Bigrlyi deposit is a tabular, sandstone-hosted, uranium–vanadium deposit of Carboniferous age located in the Ngalia Basin of central Australia. The deposit is similar to the continental, fluvial Saltwash-type of sandstone-hosted U-V deposits which are well known from the Colorado Plateau, USA. Most mineralization at Bigrlyi occurs as thin, multiple-stacked, stratiform lenses at the base of fluvial channels near the contact between a grey sandstone succession and a hematitic, purple–red sandstone succession. A larger halo of lower grade vanadium mineralization extends beyond the main U-V-mineralized zone. The host is an immature, feldspathic sandstone, grading into arkose and lithic-rich variants. Lithic ‘rip-up’ clasts of clay-rich sediments are common in the basal parts of fluvial channels, and are frequently the focus of, and have acted as sites for, U-V mineralization. Coffinite and uraninite are the main uranium minerals, with the former dominant. Vanadium is mainly hosted by Fe-V-bearing clays and chlorite, including roscoelite, grading into vanadian illite, the interlayer mineral corrensite, and altered detrital biotite. The V-Fe–oxyhydroxide minerals montroseite, haggite and doloresite, and altered detrital Fe-Ti oxides, are minor V-hosts. Mineralized zones correlate with enrichments in Se, Li, Ba, Be, Mo, Mg and Fe, and elevated Se/S ratios are characteristic of U-mineralized zones. Petrographic studies show that a heterogeneous mixture of variably mineralized lithic clasts is present; in the same rock, some clasts are Fe-rich and only weakly U-V-mineralized, while other clasts are strongly V- and/or U-mineralized. These observations point to mineralization processes that did not take place in-situ in the host sandstone at the site of deposition as required by conventional groundwater models. Lead isotope results provide evidence of the open-system mobility of radiogenic elements in parts of the deposit. In V-bearing zones, radiogenic Pb contents were found to be unsupported by current U levels, suggesting that over time U has been mobilized from these zones and redistributed, resulting in U-enrichment in other parts of the deposit. Mobility pathways were likely open over time from early in the history of the Bigrlyi deposit. A hybrid mineralization model, involving an interplay between solution-precipitation processes, detrital transport and post-depositional U remobilization, is proposed for Bigrlyi. Ferrous-ion-bearing clay minerals and pyrite are considered to be the most likely primary reductants/adsorbents, while the deposit is lacking carbonaceous matter.
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