Abstract

The Molango manganese deposit in Mexico is by far the largest known Mn deposit in North America. Mn carbonate mineralization is hosted by a finely laminated Upper Jurassic marine sedimentary sequence that forms the base of the Chipoco facies of the Taman Formation (Kimmeridgian). Manganese enrichment occurs over a total stratigraphic thickness of approximately 50 m, and a length of over 50 km along strike and serves as the protore for supergene Mn oxide ore. The carbonate ore zone comprises the basal 1 to 10 m of the Chipoco facies.The carbonate ore bed consists of fine-grained rhodochrosite and dispersed organic matter, magnetite, and maghemite but generally only trace quantities of pyrite. Fine laminations and clotted textures suggest deposition in a restricted marine environment. Manganese content is highest at the base of the mineralized interval, drops abruptly to subore grade, Mn-rich carbonates, and then gradually decreases upward to background levels (i.e., trace Mn in calcite). Chemical and mineralogical studies indicate that the predominant mineralogy changes upward from rhodochrosite in the ore zone, to mixed carbonates (Mn calcite, kutnohorite, + or - rhodochrosite), to Mn calcite.Several geologic and geochemical processes resulted in the formation of Mn carbonate by the early diagenetic reduction of Mn oxides through the oxidation of organic matter and iron sulfide. Mn oxides were concentrated at the margins of a dysaerobic to mildly anoxic stratified basin and became an important oxidizing agent of organic matter in the sediment pile. Effects of organic matter oxidation reactions included production of manganous ion (Mn (super +2) ), MnCO 3 precipitation, oxidation of iron monosulfide (precursor to pyrite), and formation of Fe oxide. The latter two processes explain the anomalously low pyrite and abundant magnetite content in the ore zone. The observed vertical variation of Mn carbonate mineralogy and the mineral compositions reflect variations in the concentrations of reduced manganese in the pore waters. Thus, Mn carbonate precipitated from pore water and did not form as a chemical sediment in the water column. The ultimate source of the manganese is uncertain but may have been fluvial-sediment loads or hydrothermal activity associated with the rifting of the Gulf of Mexico.

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