Sediment-Hosted Metals of the Colorado Plateau

Course Details

Sediment-hosted metals such as Gold, Copper, Uranium, Vanadium, and Iron have been exploited for decades without much focus on sedimentological context. As demand for these metals continues to grow and the largest and most obvious occurrences have been found we have a need for predictive models based on a deeper understanding of what makes these systems work and controls on their mineralization.

The Colorado Plateau is well-known for its sediment-hosted metal deposits and is often used as the type-setting for mineral occurrences elsewhere.  During this field trip, we will be taking participants to some of the most famous mines and showing them world-class examples.


Who Should Attend

• Economic Geologists • Exploration Geologists • Engineers • Miners

This course is meant for all who are working on the exploration and exploitation of metals.

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    Course Outline

    Day 1

    You will be arriving the day before the course starts at Canyonlands Field Airport, Utah, USA and we will check you in to your hotel in Moab, Utah. The next morning we will begin with a safety briefing, orientation to the field area, and an introduction to sediment-hosted metals with an overview Vanadium, Copper and Uranium mining from the Colorado Plateau.

    After the lectures we will go visit Dead Horse State Park where we will discuss the source of the metals in the Paradox Basin, host rocks and possible migration pathways. We will then visit mines that produce all three commodities (Copper-Uranium-Vanadium) and discuss controls on their distribution.

    Day 2

    Morning lectures will focus on sediment-hosted Uranium and the importance of reductant distribution in fluvial settings.

    In the field we will drive into the Henry Mountain Mining District and look at Uranium mines in the Triassic Chinle Formation. Participants will observe a classic “log-jam” in a fluvial point-bar deposit. You will also get to observe how disseminated organics derived from the erosion of woody plant matter can provide reductant for Uranium entrapment.

    Day 3

    Morning lectures will focus on Uranium and we will discuss the differences between classic roll fronts vs tabular deposits vs rolls.

    We will be checking-out of our hotel in Moab and will drive into the Slick Rock Mining District of Colorado where you will get to see textbook examples of Uranium-Vanadium rolls and minor Copper mineralization.

    We will continue our journey into the state of New Mexico where we will check into our hotel in Farmington – a town well-known for its importance in coal-mining and oil and gas.

    Day 4

    Morning lectures will Sediment-Hosted Stratiform Copper Deposits and the conditions needed to get economically minable accumulations. We will critique the traditional Redbed or Revett-Type models.

    In the field we will be visiting the Nacimiento Mine – one of the largest sandstone-hosted Copper mines in the US. Participants will understand the relationship between plant-matter and Copper entrapment.

    We will then drive to the Grants Mining District where you will be checking into your hotel.

    Day 5

    Morning lectures will focus on carbonate-hosted metals including Skarns and Carlin-type Gold with an emphasis on Uranium.

    In the field, we will be visiting the Zia and La Jara mines, to begin with, and compare the lithofacies association and Uranium mineralization with Haystack Mountain. Participants will observe how quickly facies belts change from proximal to distal along the margins of a lake and the effects on the volume of reductant produced needed to deposit Uranium.

    After farewell dinner, we will drop you off at Albuquerque Airport in New Mexico for an evening departure.

    This course is offered in the last week of October every year and costs $5500/person. This all inclusive rate includes five nights hotel stay, all meals, snacks and drinks in the field, fuel, permits, transportation during the field trip, tuition and field guide.

    Visas for the US typically take 1-2 months to process therefore we recommend contacting us as soon as possible so we can send you a letter of invitation that you can take to your local US consulate.

    Our location

    Our headquarters are twenty minutes away from downtown Denver and half an hour from the largest core facility in the United States. Or field office in Ouray allows us quick access to world-class outcrops in Utah and New Mexico.