the end of World War II, the Atomic Energy Commission replaced the Manhattan
Project and launched the first federally-sponsored mineral rush in history.
The AEC constructed roads into the back country, promised $10,000 bonuses
for new lodes of high-grade ore, guaranteed minimum prices and paid
up to $50 per ton on 0.3 percent ore, constructed mills, helped with
haulage expenses and posted geologic data on promising areas tracked
by federal geologists using airborne scinillometers and other sophisticated
radiation detection instruments.
Four Corners area, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet,
suddenly teemed with prospectors in the greatest ore search since the
gold fever days of the previous century. Amateurs and experts, alike,
followed AEC guidelines and used radiation detectors called Geiger counters
to test promising sandstone formations for uranium deposits. Concentrating
on exposed outcroppings along canyon rims, they searched primarily for
the grayish Salt Wash member of the Morrison formation. When a likely
claim was located, they used diamond drills to core test holes to determine
if mineable ore was present.