Abstract

The east-northeast-trending Murchison-Thabazimbi Lineament in northern South Africa is one of the world’s most important structures for its control on world-class mineral deposits, Proterozoic sedimentary basins and giant igneous intrusions. The deepest exposed Archaean parts of the lineament are the Murchison Belt. Bounded by granitoids, the belt comprises greenschist to amphibolite facies volcano-sedimentary strata with isoclinal folds and the 7 km thick meta-igneous Rooiwater Complex. The Rooiwater Complex is intruded by a northern regional granitoid dated at 2 929 ± 7 Ma by SHRIMP U-Pb on zircons. Using field relationships, published isotopic age data and new SHRIMP zircon dates we confirm the age Rooiwater Complex at 2 965 Ma, showing it to be contemporaneous with the Archaean volcanic and sedimentary formations, the meta-igneous Complex being the lower sequence in a ~2 980 to 2 960 Ma island arc.

Despite being implicated as a source of gold for the world’s largest natural accumulation of gold in the Witwatersrand Basin, the absolute age of Sb-Au mineralisation in the Murchison Belt is poorly constrained. We have utilised SHRIMP U-Pb geochronology to date monazites from a Sb-Au ore sample from the granitoid-hosted Malati Pump orebody and determine ages for two different generations of monazite, both associated with ore minerals. The older age of 2 832 ± 23 Ma is from a minority of grains and is interpreted to date the primary Sb-Au mineralisation, about 120 Ma after belt formation. This age predates, or is possibly synchronous with, sedimentation of the upper-Witwatersrand Central Rand Group. The younger age of 1 968 ± 17 Ma from a majority of monazite grains is unrelated in time to known events and interpreted here as a cryptic hydrothermal reworking of the Sb-Au ores in this deposit.

You do not currently have access to this article.