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Emplacement and preservation of mineralized écaille within Roan Breccia of the Lufilian Arc, Central African Copperbelt: the Thrust Belt Boudinage model

Abstract

Localized zones of Roan Breccia with very large clasts, termed écaille, occur throughout the arcuate Lufilian Arc of Central Africa. The breccia zones consist of mineralized Mines Subgroup rocks with Roches Argilo-Talcqueuses (R.A.T.) at their base. Several of these areas, such as Mashitu/Tenke-Fungurume, Kamoya-Kambove and Shinkolobwe, contain significant Cu and Co resources. A new model, termed the Thrust Belt Boudinage model, ascribes their formation and mineralization to localized lateral extension of the fold-and-thrust belt as the arc flexed during its development. Roan Breccia-rich areas, termed Double Cuspate Zones (DCZs), initiated from early, major, strike-perpendicular fractures. These progressively dilating areas became sumps for detritus shed from — and pushed ahead of — advancing thrust units. Detritus entrained into the base of advancing thrust units, which adopted a pseudo-lamination, was incorporated into R.A.T. Over-riding thrust units were locally unsupported by these dilating Roan Breccia-filled DCZs, resulting in delamination of the highly fractured, pervasively veined and mineralized lower portions of the Mines Subgroup, which slumped into DCZs at various attitudes. These écaille preserve disharmonic folding, with respect to longer-wavelength Kundelungu Group folds that are evident on Lufilian Arc maps. DCZs bear a remarkable resemblance to zones of foliation boudinage, suggesting that they were low-pressure depositional sites for metal- and brine-rich fluids. The process is encapsulated in a physically-and geologically-accurate animation video. While the new model does not replace the role of halite-rich fluids transporting mineralization, it obviates the requirement for very large volumes of salt transporting écaille physically and en masse.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to an anonymous reviewer for their guidance and comments, which have assisted us in improving an earlier version of the manuscript and its figures. In particular, the Editor-in-Chief of Mineralium Deposita, Bernd Lehmann, is thanked for both his attention to detail and his appreciation for the proposed model and concepts that we describe in the manuscript.

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Basson, I.J., McCall, MJ., Koegelenberg, C.K. et al. Emplacement and preservation of mineralized écaille within Roan Breccia of the Lufilian Arc, Central African Copperbelt: the Thrust Belt Boudinage model. Miner Deposita (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-022-01139-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-022-01139-7

Keywords

  • Lufilian Arc
  • Base metals
  • Écaille
  • Dilation
  • Foliation boudinage