Abstract

Reassessment of the nature and distribution of iron-titanium oxide minerals vs. pyrite in several South African Archean arenaceous sequences and conglomerates shows that in rocks of the Swaziland, Pongola, and Witwatersrand Supergroups, (1) pyrite of allogenic and/or authigenic origin is the predominant heavy mineral; (2) iron-titanium oxides generally take the form of very fine grained, dispersed rutile-leucoxene replacements after earlier black-sand minerals; (3) iron-titanium oxides constitute 1%-6% of the total heavy minerals; and (4) the phenomenon of sulfidization of iron-titanium oxide minerals is evident only on a very local scale. Exceptions to points 1 and 3 occur in conglomerates of the Dominion Group, which were derived from a pegmatitic terrain.

The lack of macroscopically visible iron-titanium oxide minerals in the Witwatersrand conglomerates is a result of a combination of two factors. First, recycling of older sedimentary material was critical to the genesis of the conglomerates; about 60% of the source area consisted of arenaceous sequences. Iron-titanium mineral grains from this source had been altered to rutile-leucoxene prior to erosion, and thus did not contribute fresh iron-titanium minerals to the conglomerates. Second, those minerals derived from the remaining 40% of the source area were altered and decomposed to rutile-leucoxene in the Witwatersrand conglomerates. Furthermore, much of the resulting finely dispersed material helped to form brannerite, an important titanium sink. There is no need to invoke widespread sulfidization of black sands to account for the supposed lack of iron-titanium minerals and abundance of pyrite in the Witwatersrand conglomerates and ores.

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