Host rock geochemistry, texture and chemical composition of magnetite in iron ore in the Neoarchaean Nyong unit in southern Cameroon

N. N. Chombong, C. E. Suh, B. Lehmann, A. Vishiti, D. C. Ilouga, E. M. Shemang, B. S. Tantoh, A. C. Kedia

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Abstract

A combination of petrography, whole-rock geochemistry, geochronology and compositional variation in magnetite is employed in this study to elucidate the nature and origin of enigmatic magnetite mineralisation hosted within gneissic rocks in the Nyong Unit in southern Cameroon. The mineralisation occurs as magnetite-bearing calc-silicate gneisses. The host rock mineral assemblage comprises quartz-plagioclase-biotite-amphibole-chlorite-dinopyroxene-garnet that provides evidence of medium-grade metamorphism and retrograde alteration. Textural and chemical analyses of the magnetite grains show variable textural and trace element chemical characteristics attributed to metamorphic-hydrothermal overprint and weathering. Magnetite occurs as disseminations and stringers commonly intergrown with amphiboles. It is also observed to show vermiforms wrapped around quartz and clinopyroxenes within a biotite-chlorite-plagioclase groundmass. Massive-granoblastic magnetite is rare and mainly observed within vein-like domains. On backscattered secondary electron images the magnetite grains are anhedral, with minor spinel exsolution lamellae. Electron microprobe analysis on magnetite suggests both a hydrothermal skarn and banded iron formation (BIF) affinity. The lack of negative Ce anomalies excludes a Proterozoic BIF setting, but it is in agreement with Archaean BIF. Sensitive high resolution ion microprobe U-Pb isotope data on zircon in the magnetite gneiss define an identical Wetherill concordia and Tera-Wasserburg Neoarchaean age of 2699 +/- 7 Ma (1 sigma; MSWD (mean square weighted deviation) = 1.3; n = 13), and Pan-African disturbance at about 500 +/- 200 Ma. The Neoarchaean age is in accordance with the known onset of BIF deposition at the northern edge of the Congo Craton and therefore constrains the maximum age of formation of the Nyong magnetite gneisses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalTransactions of the Institutions of Mining and Metallurgy, Section B: Applied Earth Science
Volume126
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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