1977 Report on Uranium in Belize

Trying to see if there are any more recent reports on scans done with newer technologies, will do another post IF I find anything.

IUREP N.P.S. No. 39
August 1977
Original: ENGLISH

International Atomic Energy Agency







(a) Geography

Belize is a well-forested area of 22,960 square kilometers. Its capital is Belmopan. The country is generally flat north of the capital city. The flat, swampy Caribbean Coast of Belize gradually ascends to the low peaks of the Maya and Cockscomb Mountains (elevation to 1,120 meters). The area south of the Maya Mountains is much more rugged than the area to the north. The country is drained by seventeen rivers, the chief ones being the Belize, Hondo, New, Sibun, Monkey and Moho. There is ‘hurricane danger in the July-October period.

(b) Climate

The climate is hot and humid. Temperatures vary from 15.6° to 32.2° C. along the coast but are higher inland. The yearly rainfall averages 127 cm. in the north and 445 cm. in the south, with the rainy seasons coming in June-July and October-January.

(c) Access

Almost 1,770 km. of roads link all but one main town to Belize City, the former capital. Thirteen airstrips are available for domestic flights. Belize airport west of Belize City provides international service.

(d) Other

The country is a British colony with internal self-government. Guatemala has claimed the territory for many years, but both Mexico and Great Britain have opposed its annexation. In recent months Guatemala has threatened to take action should Britain grant independence to Belize.


Belize can be divided into two major geologic provinces: (1) the Maya Mountain horst which consists largely of Paleozoic and early Mesozoic rocks and may extend eastward into the Cayman Ridge System of the Caribbean, and (2) the surrounding lowlands underlain by Cretaceous and younger sediments.

The northern part of the country is a region of low relief, sloping from the mountains to the sea, and is underlain principally by Tertiary limestone and anhydrite. Since outcrops are rare, geologic data are obtained primarily from hand dug wells, cores from a few oil wells (dry) and geophysical surveys.

The Paleozoic of the Maya Mountains is represented by the Pennsylvanian-mid-Permian Santa Rosa Group. This group is interbedded with, a pile of acidic lavas and associated pyroclastics indicating a period of local extensive volcanismi A regional unconformity separates the Paleozoic from the Mesozoic Periods.

The Todos Santos (San Ricardo Formation) of the upper-lower Cretaceous system consists chiefly of arkosic sandstones, red shales and claystones. It is conformably overlain by the Cretaceous Hillbank Formation which is composed of porous, tan to light grey limestones and dolomites. The Todos Santos of Belize may be equivalent in part to the Todos Santos Formation of Guatemala and the lower-most Coban Formation of Guatemala and southern Belize. The Yalbac Formation overlies the Hillbank Formation but is separated by a transition zone. It consists of interbedded limestones, dolomites, anhydrites and minor shales. The Barton Creek Formation, unconformably overlies the Yalbac, and constitutes the youngest Cretaceous rocks in northern Belize. It consists mainly of predominant grey and tan limestones and dolomites together with minor shales and evaporites. The end of the Mesozoic is marked by an unconformity.

The lowermost Tertiary beds range in age from Paleocene; to middle-Eocene. The basal El Cayo Group consists principally of limestones that form part of the north flank of the Maya Mountains and forms a series of cuestas along the western edge of the country. The Doubloon Group overlies the El Cayo Group conformably and is separated from the upper Tertiary by an unconformity. It consists of limestones that are fine grained, dense, and massive or thick bedded, representing a back reef facies. Doubloon outcrops are marked by cunsiderable dark grey to black chert nodules that have weathered out of the formation. The Oligocene in northern Belize is marked by an unconformity recognized locally by the Iguana Creek Conglomerate.

The Miocene-Pliocene Red Bank Group consists of interbedded grey claystones, lignitic shales, sandstones and gypsum. The clays, which may be bentonitic, contain chert add chalcedony nodules. The Orange Walk Group unconformably overlies both the Red Bank and Doubloon Groups.

The groups grade upward through a sequence of sandy limestones, marls, coquina limestones, and coral limestones.

The Pleistocene consists of reefal sediments and forms the base for much of the present reef growth.

The Maya Mountain horst was intruded by three major granite bodies between mid-Paleozoic and early Mesozoic time, namely the Mountain Pine Ridge, Cockscomb and Hummingbird batholiths. The Mountain Pine Ridge batholith is a highly differentiated granite while the other two are composed primarily of muscovite granodiorite.


Belize has reportedly been surveyed by Gamma Ray Spectrometer for phosphates which probably would have contained sufficient uranium to be detectable. The survey traversed about 1,000 line kms along major north-south and east-west roads as well as many secondary roads and trails. The uranium readings ranged from 0. to 9.9 ppm with a uranium content of 1-2 ppm in the limestone areas and 2-7 ppm in the alluvium-covered areas. The U/Th ratio varied from 0.11 to 1.65. A recent traverse across the Mountain Pine Ridge batholith gave one reading as high as 36 ppm but the average was about 9-10 ppm.

The upper 1000-3000 feet of core and cuttings from nine deep oil were almost pure limestones. The P203 content was less than 0.05 percent and no uranium was detected


To date no significant uranium mineralization has been found in Belize. While monazite has been reported in all the granite masses, no data are available on its distribution within the granites.


Information is not available on current exploration in Belize. Control of all minerals is vested in the Crown except for those mineral lands withdraw other areas from prospecting and mining for specified minerals. A 1949 law requires the Minister to issue special licenses to prospect for, mine or export radioactive minerals, and the licensees must file monthly reports with the government on their work. The Governor has complete discretion in administering this law. As a rule, exploration and mining rights may be obtained by foreign nationals or companies though nonresidents must be represented by a resident attorney.


It is very doubtful that any significant uranium occurrences will be found in the sediments surrounding the Maya Mountain uplift. However, there is a slight chance that uranium might occur in the granites and pegmatites in the Maya Mountains.

The potential of Belize is estimated to he in the less than 1.000 tonnes uranium range, considering the restricted range, of geologic environments encountered there.


  • Bateson, J.H., 1972. A new interpretation of the Geology of the Maya Mountains, British Honduras, Am. Assoc. Pet. Geol. Bull., Vol. 56, No. 5, May, pp. 956-963.
  • Dixon, C.G. 1956. Geology of Southern British Honduras with notes, on adjacent areas; Government Printers, Belize, British Honduras, 85 p.
  • Flores, Giovanni, 1952. Geology of Northern British Honduras, Am. Assoc. Pet. Geol. Bull., Vol.36, No.2, Feb., pp. 404-413.
  • Ower, Leslie, 1928. Geology of British Honduras, Journal of Geology, Vol. 36, pp. 494-509.


Belize 1977 Uranium Evaluation Map

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