Detection of concealed Cu-Zn massive sulfide mineralization below eolian sand and a calcrete cover in the eastern part of the Namaqua Metamorphic Province, South Africa

  • Ghavami-Riabi R
  • Theart H
  • De Jager C
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The regolith studied here is located at the defunct Areachap mine and the newly discovered Kantienpan Cu-Zn volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VHMS) deposit, located in the Areachap Group of the eastern part of Mesoproterozoic Namaqua Metamorphic Province. This area is highly prospective for further VHMS discoveries. Paleo and recent weathering of the upper most parts of massive sulfide deposits led to the formation of a gossan zone. Due to semi-arid climatic conditions during the late Cretaceous, affecting the African Land surface, the lowermost units of the Kalahari Group and the underlying floor rocks were calcretized. An approximately 6 m thick calcrete layer formed above the gossan zone and this was later covered by eolian Kalahari sand. Samples were collected from the eolian sand cover in the study areas to determine the best analytical method that would enable recognition of the concealed ore deposits and detect the widest secondary dispersion halo. Mobile metal ions from the finest fraction of the eolian sand samples (< 75 μm) were extracted with a NH4EDTA (EDTA) solution. The solution was analysed for Cu, Zn, Pb and Mn by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The same grainsize fraction of the original samples was also analysed for comparison purposes by means of X-ray fluorescence (XRF). Results indicate that the ore zone in both areas may be recognized by both partial and total analyses of the eolian sand samples collected, although the calcrete layer, below the sand cover, acts as a partial geochemical barrier. The recognition of the ore zone depends on the regolith forming processes and the thickness of the eolian sand cover. In the Areachap area, with a relatively thick sand cover (in excess of 1 m) above the calcrete layer, the detectable geochemical halo is related to the distribution of the mobile metal ions, and partial extraction (EDTA solution) results define a larger dispersion halo than that, that could be detected by total analysis (XRF). Whereas, in the Kantienpan area with a very thin sand cover (< 50 cm) dispersion appears to be related more to the secondary redistribution of gossaniferous clasts released by recent weathering out of the calcrete, than to dispersion of mobile metal ions on the surface of sand particles. In this area, the XRF results reveal a wider dispersion of the elements of interest. © 2008.

Author-supplied keywords

  • EDTA
  • Exploration geochemistry
  • Regolith geochemistry
  • Selective extraction: Calcrete covered Base metal sulfide deposits

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  • R. Ghavami-Riabi

  • H. F J Theart

  • C. De Jager

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