Mineralium Deposita

, 44:881

REE and Sr isotope characteristics of carbonate within the Cu–Co mineralized sedimentary sequence of the Nchanga Mine, Zambian Copperbelt

  • Stephen Roberts
  • Martin R. Palmer
  • Matthew J. Cooper
  • Peter Buchaus
  • Drew Sargent


Carbonate, largely in the form of dolomite, is found throughout the host rocks and ores of the Nchanga mine of the Zambian Copperbelt. Dolomite samples from the hanging wall of the mineralization show low concentrations of rare-earth elements (REE) and roof-shaped, upward convex, shale-normalized REE patterns, with positive Eu*SN anomalies (1.54 and 1.39) and marginally negative Ce anomalies (Ce*SN 0.98,0.93). In contrast, dolomite samples associated with copper and cobalt mineralization show a significant rotation of the REE profile, with HREE enrichment, and La/LuSN ratios <1 (0.06–0.42). These samples also tend to show variable but predominantly negative Eu*SN and positive cerium anomalies and an upwardly concave MREE distribution (Gd-Er). Malachite samples from the Lower Orebody show roof-tile-normalized REE patterns with negative europium anomalies (Eu*SN 0.65–0.80) and negative cerium anomalies (Ce*SN 0.86–0.9). The carbonate 87Sr/86Sr signature correlates with the associated REE values. The uppermost dolomite samples show Neoproterozoic seawater-like 87Sr/86Sr ratios ranging from 0.7111 to 0.7116, whereas carbonate from Cu–Co mineralized samples show relatively low concentrations of strontium and more radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr, ranging between 0.7136–0.7469. The malachite samples show low concentrations of strontium, but give a highly radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr of 0.7735, the most radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr ratio. These new data suggest that the origin and timing of carbonate precipitation at Nchanga is reflected in the REE and Sr isotope chemistry. The upper dolomite samples show a modified, but essentially seawater-like signature, whereas the rotation of the REE profile, the MREE enrichment, the development of a negative Eu*SN anomaly and more radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr suggests the dolomite in the Cu–Co mineralized samples precipitated from basinal brines which had undergone significant fluid–rock interaction. Petrographic, REE, and 87Sr/86Sr data for malachite are consistent with the original sulfide Lower Orebody being subject to a later oxidizing event.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Roberts
    • 1
  • Martin R. Palmer
    • 1
  • Matthew J. Cooper
    • 1
  • Peter Buchaus
    • 1
  • Drew Sargent
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Rio Tinto Exploration, Africa & Europe RegionLondonUK

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