The Koeris Formation in the Mesoproterozoic Aggeneys-Gamsberg ore district (South Africa) is located in the hanging wall of an unconformity, only metres above the giant Gamsberg and Big Syncline Pb-Zn ore deposits and potentially contains critical information on the metallogenesis and its geodynamic setting. We, therefore, conducted geochemical analyses of amphibolite and metasedimentary rocks of this formation in the core of the Gamsberg fold, the results of which shed new light on the plate tectonic processes after deposition of the sedimentary exhalative ore. Major elements previously used for the characterisation of the amphibolite and the discrimination of the plate tectonic setting of its protolith had been mobilised during retrograde metamorphic overprint and are thus of little tectonic significance. More informative are certain trace elements: The amphibolite shows a strong depletion in Nb, Ta and P, typical of subduction-related magmatism, whereas exceptionally strong enrichment in mobile elements like Rb and Ba indicate the participation of continental material (crust/sediment) in the enrichment of the mantle wedge. This is in perfect agreement with existing U-Pb age data, which attest formation of the mafic metavolcanic rocks of the Koeris Formation at the very end of the Okiepian orogenesis (1 210 to 1 180 Ma), when subduction was terminated. Generally, very high Zn and Pb contents speak for metasomatic interaction of the Koeris Formation with the Zn-and Pb-rich Gamsberg deposit prior to peak metamorphism during the Klondikean orogeny (1 040 to 1 020 Ma). The fact that especially the immobile trace elements (e.g. Nb, Ta) in all metasedimentary rocks mirror the chemical characteristics of the metavolcanic rocks indicates local amphibolite detritus as a main source of the sediments.

We conclude that the metamorphic volcano-sedimentary sequence of the Koeris Formation is not, as previously assumed, the product of a large back-arc basin but was deposited in response to tectonic uplift in a small-scale intra- or inter-montane basin at the very end of the Okiepian orogeny. The thick amphibolite layers concentrated within this topographic depression may have played a crucial role in the conservation of the underlying ore. Therefore, the occurrence of the Koeris Formation may indicate favorable locations for further exploration.

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