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Paleomagnetism of the Cu–Zn–Pb-bearing Kupferschiefer black shale (Upper Permian) at Sangerhausen, Germany


Syngenetic, diagenetic and epigenetic models have been proposed for the Cu–Zn–Pb Kupferschiefer mineralization at Sangerhausen, Germany. Paleomagnetic and rock magnetic measurements have been made on 205 specimens from mine workings on the margin of the Sangerhausen Syncline. The mineralization is richest in the ∼0.5-m-thick Upper Permian (258 ± 2 Ma) Kupferschiefer black marly shale (nine sites) and dies out over ∼0.2 m in the underlying Weisliegend sandstones (three sites) and overlying Zechstein carbonates (two sites). Except for one site of fault zone gypsum, characteristic remanent magnetization directions were isolated for all 14 sites using alternating field and thermal step demagnetization. These directions provide a negative fold test, indicating that the remanence postdates Jurassic fault block tilting. Rock magnetic measurements show that the Kupferschiefer shale marks a redox front between the oxidized Weissliegend sandstones and non-oxidized Zechstein carbonates. The 14 site directions give a Late Jurassic paleopole at 149 ± 3 Ma. It is significantly different from the paleopole reported by E.C. Jowett and others for primary or early diagenetic Rote Fäule alteration that gives an age of 254 ± 6 Ma on the current apparent polar wander path and is associated with Kupferschiefer mineralization. We suggest that the Late Jurassic extensional tectonic event that formed the nearby North German Basin also reactivated Variscan basement faults and extended them up through the overlying strata, thereby allowing hydrothermal basement fluids to ascend and epigenetically mineralize the Kupferschiefer shale. The possibility of a 53 ± 3 Ma mineralization age is also considered.

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The staff of the Röhrig Shaft visitors mine is gratefully acknowledged for helping with access to the various sampling sites underground. The authors thank Shiho Kawasaki for her help in preparing and measuring the samples. This manuscript has profited significantly from the review of an earlier version and from regional geological input by Gerhard Bachmann, which is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for funding this study through a Discovery Grant to D.T.A.S.

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Correspondence to David T. A. Symons.

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Symons, D.T.A., Kawasaki, K., Walther, S. et al. Paleomagnetism of the Cu–Zn–Pb-bearing Kupferschiefer black shale (Upper Permian) at Sangerhausen, Germany. Miner Deposita 46, 137–152 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-010-0319-2

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  • Eastern Germany
  • Geochronology
  • Kupferschiefer ore
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Sangerhausen mining district