Uranium-bearing phosphatized limestones of \{NW\} Greece


Tzifas IT, Godelitsas A, Magganas A, Androulakaki E, Eleftheriou G, Mertzimekis TJ, Perraki M. Uranium-bearing phosphatized limestones of \{NW\} Greece. J. Geochem. Explor. 2014;143:62 – 73.


Abstract Sedimentary Mesozoic rocks from \{NW\} Greece (Epirus region), and particularly laminated phosphatized limestones, bedded chert-rich limestones and brecciated phosphatized limestones, were examined for their actinide content. Gamma-ray measurements using a \{HPGe\} detector showed that the above geological materials exhibit high radioactivity, mainly attributed to the 238U-series. The 238U content (up to 7700 Bq/kg) was determined by the 1001 keV photopeak of 234mPa, the 238U daughter. Bulk geochemical analyses using ICP-OES/MS showed variable U concentrations with a notable value of 648 ppm in the case of dark organic-rich material hosted into the brecciated phosphatized limestones. Relatively high concentrations of Cd, probably related to apatite, were also revealed. On the other hand, the rock is geochemically depleted in \{LILE\} (e.g. Cs, Rb, K), as well as in As, Sb and Se in contrast to “average phosphorite”. Powder-XRD combined with optical microscopy, SEM–EDS and \{FTIR\} confirmed abundant apatite, besides calcite, as well as organic compounds (organic matter/O.M.) which should be associated to the high U content. According to Th/Sc vs. Zr/Sc discrimination diagrams the organic-rich part of the U-bearing phosphatised limestones exhibits a mafic trend, in contrast to the rest of the studied rocks lying close to typical pelagic sediments. However, Eu/Eu* vs. Ce/Ce* diagrams, in combination with SEM–EDS, indicated that the organic-rich part is a typical sedimentary material whereas the organic-poor (and also U-poor) part of the rock is secondary calcite related to surface waters. As far as we know, the studied rocks from \{NW\} Greece are classified as among the richest U-bearing phosphatized limestones and/or sedimentary phosphorites in the world.