In giant unconformity-related U deposits from the Athabasca Basin (Canada), the origin of the ore fluids and the source of elements typically associated with U ore, such as Mg and B, are highly controversial. This paper presents a petrographic and boron isotopic study of Mg-tourmalines (dravites) coeval with U oxides and of primary tourmalines from basement rocks. The heavy B isotopic compositions of dravites (δ11B = 19.6‰–36.5‰) contrast with the light composition of basement tourmalines (δ11B = −8.1‰–3.3‰) and clearly show that most of the B was brought to the ore system by basinal brines of marine origin. Because the latter are also typically Mg-rich, a similar origin for Mg is proposed. These results support the idea that marine-derived brines were the only fluids involved in the formation of the deposits, and therefore challenge the previous models in which the B and Mg were leached from sedimentary and/or basement rocks, or carried by a basement-derived fluid.
- Received 30 May 2011.
- Revision received 29 September 2011.
- Accepted 12 October 2011.
- © Geological Society of America