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May-June 2012

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Uranium Mineralization at the Apex Mine Lander County Nevada

The currently inactive Apex mine in Lander County, Nevada, is recognized historically as the largest producer of uranium in the state. The deposit is geologically different from typical sedimentary uranium occurrences in that it occurs within brecciated zones of leucocratic dikes at the contact between a quartz monzonite and metasediments. Ore-grade mineralization is present primarily as crystallized autunite with rarer torbernite, but an interesting assemblage of additional secondary uranium minerals also occurs, many of which are relatively uncommon worldwide.

Numerous references in the geological literature have always correctly attributed Nevada's greatest uranium production to the Apex mine. Exploited primarily in the 1950s during the post–World War II “uranium boom,” the production from this deposit is actually quite small, however, when compared to most other worldwide uranium occurrences. On the other hand, the majority of ore is present as crystals, and it is this feature that makes the locality of notable interest to collectors. Surprisingly, it appears that few field mineralogists have ever carefully examined the property, and it is the goal of this article to bring to light the complete mineralogy of this interesting, yet largely unknown, deposit.

Martin Jensen has a master's degree in geology/geochemistry from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and works for a consulting engineering firm in Reno, Nevada. Primarily a field collector, he has published more than forty articles on mineralogy and has discovered twelve new mineral species.

Jason Herrmann has a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and works for an environmental analytical laboratory in Reno, Nevada. He is also a field collector and operates a website called Lithosphere Minerals (www.lithosphereminerals.com).

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