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Growth and Alteration of Uranium-Rich Microlite

  • R. Gierí (a1), R. J. Swope (a2), E. C. Buck (a3), R. Guggenheim (a4), D. Mathys (a4) and E. Reusser (a5)...

Uranium-rich microlite, a pyrochlore-group mineral, occurs in 440 Ma old lithium pegmatites of the Mozambique Belt in East Africa. Microlite exhibits a pronounced growth zoning, with a U-free core surrounded by a U-rich rim (UO2 up to 17 wt.%). The core exhibits conjugate sets of straight cracks (cleavage planes) which provided pathways for a late-stage U-enriched pegmatitic fluid which interacted with the U-free microlite to produce a distinct U enrichment along the cracks and led to the formation of the U-rich rim. Following the stage of U incorporation into microlite, a second generation of hydrothermal fluids deposited mica along the cleavage planes. Subsequent to these two hydrothermal stages, the host rock was uplifted and subjected to intense low-temperature alteration during which Na, Ca and F were leached from the microlite crystals. This alteration also led to a hydration of microlite, but there is no evidence of U loss. These low-temperature alteration effects were only observed in the U-rich rim which is characterized by a large number of irregular cracks which are most probably the result of metamictization, as indicated by electron diffraction images and powder X-ray patterns.

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