Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 581-595

First online:

Composition and origin of the Çaldağ oxide nickel laterite, W. Turkey

  • Robert ThorneAffiliated withSchool of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton Email author 
  • , Richard HerringtonAffiliated withMineralogy Department, Natural History Museum
  • , Stephen RobertsAffiliated withSchool of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

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The Çaldağ nickel laterite deposit located in the Aegean region of W. Turkey contains a reserve of 33 million tons of Ni ore with an average grade of 1.14% Ni. The deposit is developed on an ophiolitic serpentinite body which was obducted onto Triassic dolomites in the Late Cretaceous. The deposit weathering profile is both laterally and vertically variable. A limonite zone, which is the main ore horizon, is located at the base of the profile. A hematite horizon is located above the limonite, which in the south of the deposit is capped by Eocene freshwater limestones and in the north by a siliceous horizon. The deposit is unusual in lacking a significant saprolite zone with little development of Ni-silicates. The boundary between the limonite zone and serpentinite below is sharp with a marked decrease in concentrations of MgO from 13 to 1 wt.% over a distance of 2 mm representing the ‘Mg discontinuity’. Ni concentrations within goethite, the main ore mineral, reach a maximum of ~3 wt.% near the base of the limonite zone. Silica concentrations are high throughout most of the laterite with up to 80 wt.% silica in the upper portion of some profiles. The combination of a serpentinite protolith and a high water table at Çaldağ, in association with an aggressive weathering environment in a tropical climate, resulted in the formation of an oxide-dominated deposit. The precipitation of silica may coincide with a change in climate with silica precipitation linked to an increase in seasonality. Additional variations within profile morphology are attributed to transportation during and after laterite development as a result of faulting, pocket type laterite formation and slumping, each of which produces a contrasting set of textural and geochemical features.


Çaldağ Nickel laterite Limonite