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Title:The isotope geochemistry of uranium: Igneous petrology, ore deposits, and groundwater contamination
Author(s):Bopp, Charles J., IV
Director of Research:Lundstrom, Craig C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lundstrom, Craig C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Johnson, Thomas M.; Sanford, Robert A.; Marshak, Stephen
Department / Program:Geology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
uranium isotopes
groundwater contamination
groundwater remediation
mass spectrometry
thermal diffusion
thermal migration
uranium contamination
uranium remediation
uranium ore
roll front
uranium mining
uranium reduction
thermal migration zone refining
Abstract:This study applies high precision 238U/235U measurement techniques two three geologic settings: basalt differentiation, uranium ore genesis, and the remediation of a uranium-contaminated groundwater system. In the latter two cases, 238U/235U is used as a tracer of uranium reduction. 238U preferentially enters the reduced (solid) U phase, thus analysis of U ores can reveal information on the development of an ore body (chapters 2 and 3) while analysis of 238U/235U in contaminated groundwater can be used to monitor the progress of uranium reduction (chapters 4 and 5). 238U/235U measurements are applied in a less orthodox way to the problems of magmatic differentiation, where 235U separates from 238U when a partially-molten basalt is allowed to equilibrate under a temperature gradient. This extends the previous work on the isotopic effects of thermal diffusion into the heavy elements, and presents new research on the mineralogical development of a basalt under a thermal gradient. There are five studies in this work: 238U/235U is first applied to detect the effect of a thermal gradient on a partially molten basalt, with variations of ≈1.0‰ found over ≈150°C. 238U/235U is then applied to the case of sedimentary reduced uranium ore deposits. A general survey of finds a shift of ≈1.0‰ between magmatic-type and sandstone-type uranium ores. A small-scale study of a uranium roll front deposit finds 238U/235U variation in excess of 1.0‰. In both cases, the shift in 238U/235U is attributed to the nuclear field shift effect during uranium reduction. 238U/235U analysis is then applied to a groundwater remediation setting at a biostimulation experiment at the former site of a uranium tailings pile in Rifle, Colorado. 238U/235U analysis of a bioremediation experiment finds a shift of ≈1.0‰ associated with a large (≈90%) decrease in dissolved uranium concentration. This shift is again attributed to the nuclear field shift effect during uranium reduction. Finally, 238U/235U analysis is used to trace the cause of an abnormal change in dissolved uranium concentration during a subsequent biostimulation experiment at the Rifle, Colorado site. By analyzing the sense and timing of shifts in 238U/235U relative to shifts in dissolved uranium concentration I am able to differentiate between uranium reoxidation, uranium desorption, and advection of uranium-bearing groundwater.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Charles John Bopp IV
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2

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