Detection of alteration at the Millennium uranium deposit in the Athabasca Basin: a comparison of data from two airborne electromagnetic systems with ground resistivity data

Richard S. Smith*, Garnet R. Wood, Brian Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The Millennium uranium deposit is located within the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. The basement rocks, comprised primarily of paleo-Proterozoic gneisses, are electrically resistive. However, the deposit is associated with highly conductive graphitic metasediments that are intercalated with the gneisses. An unconformity separates the basement rocks from the overlying, horizontally stratified, Proterozoic sandstones of the Athabasca Group (which are also highly resistive). The strike extents of the graphitic metasedimenary packages are extensive and therefore electromagnetic (EM) survey techniques are successful at identifying these zones but do not identify the specific locations where they are enriched in uranium. Through drilling it has been noted that hydrothermal processes associated with mineralization has altered the rocks in the vicinity of the deposits, which should in theory result in a resistivity low. A significant resistivity low has been mapped coincident with the Millennium deposit using ground resistivity survey techniques.

However, a comparison of the airborne EM and ground resistivity results reveals that the two data sets have imaged different features. The resistive-limit (on-time) windows of the MEGATEM data show conductive features corresponding to lakes located to the west and south of the deposit. The late-time windows show a feature to the east of the deposit, interpreted as being associated with the east-dipping graphitic basement conductors (similar to that observed in historical ground EM data collected in this area). The early-time TEMPEST windows (delay times less than 0.2 ms) show a broad resistivity low located at approximately the same location as where the alteration has been identified through drilling. Modelling the data is not easy but a response that decays prior to 0.3 ms is consistent with 500 m material in the sandstone, a resistivity value close to the lower limit with respect to the hydrothermally altered Athabasca group sediments in this area. The MEGATEM system does not see a conductive zone over the alteration as clearly but the high signal-to-noise ratio in the late-time MEGATEM data means that the conductive material at a greater depth is more coherently imaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1158
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Prospecting
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Airborne
  • Alteration
  • Electromagnetic
  • Resistivity
  • Uranium

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