Editorial Feature

Abernathyite – Occurrence, Properties, and Distribution

Abernathyite is a rare, hydrous uranium oxide mineral, which belongs to the meta-autunite group.

It was named after a mine owner, Jess Abernathy, who discovered it first from a Colorado Plateau-type uranium deposit near Moab, Utah in 1956.

Properties of Abernathyite

  • Cell Data
    • Space group: P4/ncc
    • a = 7.176(8)
    • c = 18.126(10)
    • Z = 4

  • Crystal Data
    • Tetragonal
    • Point group: 4/m 2/m 2/m
    • As thick tabular crystals, composed of {001} and {110}, to 3mm
    • X-ray powder pattern: 9.14 (10b), 3.84 (8b), 3.34 (8), 5.63 (7), 3.59 (7), 2.79 (6b), 2.28 (6)

  • Chemical Composition
    Elements Content 1 Content 2
    UO3 57.7 56.97
    As2O5 21.6 22.89
    H2O - 10.76
    H2O+ 9.9 -
    K2O 9.5 9.38
    H2O- 4.6 -
    P2O5 1.5 -
    Total 104.8 100

  • Optical Properties
    • Optical class: Uniaxial (–), anomalously biaxial (–)
    • Pleochroism: O = yellow; E = pale yellow to colorless
    • ω = 1.597–1.608
    • ε = 1.570(3)
    • 2V(meas.) = ~5°

  • Estimated Properties
    The estimated properties of Abernathyite are tabulated below.
    Electron density Bulk density (electron density) = 3.30 gm/cm3
    note: Specific gravity of Abernathyite = 3.70 gm/ cm3
    Photoelectric PEAbernathyite = 1,175.18 barns/electron
    U = PEAbernathyite x ρelectron = 3,879.12 barns/ cm3
    Fermion index Fermion index = 0.003454114
    Boson index = 0.996545886
    GRapi = 3,480,240.22 (Gamma Ray American Petroleum Institute Units)
    Concentration of Abernathyite per GRapi unit = 287.34 (PPB)

How to Identify Abernathyite

Abernathyite can be identified in the field by its transparent yellow color, and its fluorescent luminescence. Its fracture is brittle and tabular, due to cleavages. It also has a weakly vitreous lustre, with a yellow streak.

Abernathyite has a density ranging between 3.31 to 3.57, and a hardness of 2 to 3 - between gypsum and calcite.

Global Distribution

Abernathyite is a widely distributed mineral. The following are some of the significant localities:

  • USA - the Fuemrole No. 2 mine, Temple Mountain, Emery Co. Utah; at Cave Hills and Slim Buttes, Harding Co. South Dakota; at the West mine, Saguache Co. and the Clyde Long property, San Juan Co. Colorado; at Tuba City, Coconino Co. Arizona
  • France - Rivieral mine, Lodeve, Herault
  • Germany - Sailauf, north-east of Aschaffenburg, Bavaria

Occurrence of Abernathyite and Useful Mineral Association

Abernathyite is found in rare secondary mineral coating fractures in bleached asphaltic sandstone.

It has useful mineral associations with scorodite, zeunerite, and heinrichite.





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