A Re-evaluation of the Application of CR-39 Autoradiographs in the Textural Analysis of Uranium-bearing Samples and Thin Sections

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2013


The use of CR-39 plastic polymer as a solid state nuclear track detector in the textural analysis of radioactive minerals in geological samples was first described by I.R Basham in 1981. CR-39 autoradiographs provide a detailed, high-resolution image of the in situ distribution of the radioactive minerals within geological samples on both the macroscopic and microscopic scales. This technique is an inexpensive and effective means of obtaining detailed textural information that provides insight into the style of mineralization, its relationship to primary and secondary structures in the host rock, and its association with particular geological features or mineral phases. Although this technique does not provide any information on the identity of the minerals responsible for the radioactivity, the resultant autoradiographs can be used to select regions for further detailed analysis such as petrography, microprobe analysis, or SEM imaging. This paper summarizes the procedure and outlines the appropriate time and materials required for both the exposure and etching of the CR-39 with respect to the intensity of the radioactivity emitted by the geological samples.
Keywords: uranium, CR-39, autoradiograph, Labrador, uraninite