Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 381–415 | Cite as

Discrimination and Variance Structure of Trace Element Signatures in Fe-Oxides: A Case Study of BIF-Mineralisation from the Middleback Ranges, South Australia

  • Marija Dmitrijeva
  • Andrew V. Metcalfe
  • Cristiana L. Ciobanu
  • Nigel J. Cook
  • Max Frenzel
  • William M. Keyser
  • Geoff Johnson
  • Kathy Ehrig


Uni- and multivariate statistical analyses of trace element laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry data for Fe-oxides from banded iron formation (BIF) and BIF-hosted ores in 13 deposits/prospects of the Middleback Ranges, South Australia are presented. The obtained trace element signatures were considered within a petrographic-textural framework of iron-oxide evolution from magnetite through clean martite and porous martite to platy hematite, to evaluate changes in trace element concentrations with respect to the ore enrichment processes. Statistically valid distinctions among different hematite textures were indicated for most trace elements by linear mixed-effects models. Furthermore, the hematite data showed significant intra-class correlations between spot-analyses within individual polished blocks and correlations between polished blocks within individual deposits. The data are thus aggregated within their hierarchical levels. Two linear discriminant function analyses were performed to determine the combinations of trace elements that can distinguish hematite by textures and by location within the Middleback Ranges. Tin, a significant discriminator element in both models, reflects the regional influence of granite-affiliated hydrothermal fluids on the clean martite. This granitic signature, therefore, postdates formation of magnetite BIFs and potentially represents a supergene ore enrichment stage. The combination of Ni, Co, Ti and Nb was discovered to be uniquely attributed to discrimination of the Northern and Southern Middleback Ranges, indicating very specific local settings unrelated to hematite textures. Both local and regional settings impacting on the trace element signatures of Fe-oxides throughout iron ore formation are recognised, suggesting distinct ore enrichment conditions within various segments of the belt.


Multivariate statistics Laser-ablation inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry Principal component analysis Linear mixed-effects models Discriminant function analysis 



This research is a contribution to the project “Trace elements in Fe-oxides: deportment, distribution and application in ore genesis, geochronology, exploration and mineral processing”, supported by BHP Olympic Dam and the South Australian Government Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Phung Thi Nguyen, Holly Feltus, Steve Johnson, Benjamin Tinney and Thomas Line (Arrium Mining Ltd) during fieldwork.

Supplementary material

11004_2018_9734_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (626 kb)
Electronic Appendix B: Trace Element Concentrations (In Ppm) In Iron-Oxides from Samples from The Middleback Ranges (LA-ICP-MS Data) (XLSX 625 kb)
11004_2018_9734_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (29 kb)
Electronic Appendix C: Pearson Correlation Coefficients of Trace Elements in Clean Martite, Porous Martite And Platy Hematite (XLSX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemical EngineeringThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Mathematical SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Institute for MineralogyFreiberg University of Mining and TechnologyFreibergGermany
  4. 4.SIMEC MiningDulwichAustralia
  5. 5.BHP Olympic DamAdelaideAustralia

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