Compilation of West African mineral deposits: Spatial distribution and mineral endowment

Vanessa Markwitz, K.A.A. Hein, John Miller

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    © 2015 Elsevier B.V. The West African Craton is highly endowed in minerals, and their spatial and temporal distribution varies from single to multi-phase mineralization events. They are broadly related to three major tectono-metallogenic elements and formed during distinct mineral epochs: (1) In both Archean Shields (Kénéma-Man and Reguibat) and Paleoproterozoic domains (Baoulé-Mossi, Eglab). These are characterized by giant iron ore deposits that formed between ca. 2.5-2.3 Ga, nearly all gold, porphyry copper, lead-zinc and sedimentary manganese ore that developed between 2.2 and 2.1 Ga, and primary diamonds that formed between two intervals at ca. 2.2-2.0 Ga and in the Mesozoic. (2) Across Pan-African and Variscan belts. These are distinguished by major Precambrian IOCG's, copper-gold that formed at ca. 2.1 Ga and approximately 680. Ma, and Neoproterozoic sedimentary iron ore and phosphate deposits. (3) Within intracratonic and coastal basins. These include the development of Cenozoic lateritic bauxites over Mesozoic dolerites, Tertiary/Quaternary mineral sands deposits, oolitic iron ore and sedimentary phosphate deposits. Geological, spatial and temporal correlations using the multi-commodity West African Mineral Deposit Database highlight that gold and non-gold commodities formed in multiple phases. This commenced in the Liberian Orogeny (2.9-2.8 Ga) with the enrichment of iron ore, nickel sulphides, diamonds and gold in the earth's crust. The pre-Eburnean or Tangaean-EoEburnean-Eburnean I Event yielded gold, and the major Eburnean Orogeny yielded gold, iron ore, manganese, diamonds, magmatic nickel sulphides, copper-gold, lead-zinc, and REE minerals. Throughout the Pan-African event sedimentary manganese deposits, lead-zinc, REE minerals, sedimentary phosphates, and again gold were formed. Primary diamonds and magmatic nickel sulphides are related to the break-up of Gondwana, followed by an intense lateritic weathering period that formed bauxite deposits along the craton margin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-81
    Number of pages21
    JournalPrecambrian Research
    Early online date27 May 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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