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Evolution of the Munali Intrusive Complex: Host to a carbonate-rich Ni-(Cu-PGE) sulfide deposit

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-03, 15:52 authored by DE Blanks, DA Holwell, SJ Barnes, LE Schoneveld, AJ Boyce, L Mbiri
The Munali Intrusive Complex is hosted within supracrustal metasedimentary rocks located along a major structural lineament within the Zambezi Belt in southern Zambia. The complex comprises unmineralised gabbro surrounded by a marginal heterogeneous mafic–ultramafic breccia unit that is host to Ni-Fe sulfide. This marginal unit comprises a range of variably evolved brecciated mafic–ultramafic rocks that include gabbro, olivine-gabbro and dolerite, alongside younger, pegmatitic, apatite-magnetite-bearing clinopyroxenite, wehrlite and dunite. The magmatic evolution is most consistent with a model whereby early mafic rocks interact with hot, MgO- and volatile-rich melts along gabbro contacts, causing localised metasomatism of gabbro and pyroxenites, and progressively replacing pyroxene-rich rocks with olivine, forming pegmatitic ‘replacive dunites’. Sulfide mineralisation is characterised by a carbonate-rich apatite-magnetite-bearing assemblage predominately present as lenses of semi-massive to massive sulfide ore. The complex is enveloped almost entirely within a unit of marble, yet C and O isotope signatures of carbonate at Munali have revealed a clear mantle signature for some of the carbonate associated with sulfide, alongside a more dominant, crustally derived component. The carbonate occurring alongside sulfide displays micro to macro textures signifying the presence of carbonate melts formed from anatectic melting of the country rocks. The presence of fracture sets that define coarse breccia clasts (>1 m) indicate that the host rock was significantly crystallised and brittly deformed prior to carbonate and sulfide melt infiltration. Both carbonate and sulfide melts appear to have independently utilised these pre-existing weaknesses producing a pseudobreccia, and accounting for the seemingly chaotic nature of the orebody. The indication of sulfide being a significantly later phase suggests that the sulfide did not form in situ and was mobilised from elsewhere to be subsequently emplaced late within the Munali system.


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Centre for Sustainable Resource Extraction, Geography Geology & The Environment


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Ore Geology Reviews






Elsevier BV



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