Intraplate orogenesis as a driver of multistage karst-hosted mineralization: the Imini manganese case (Atlas, Morocco)

Augustin Dekoninck, Jocelyn Barbarand, Gilles Ruffet, Yves Missenard, Nadine Mattielli, Rémi Leprêtre, Abdellah Mouttaqi, Michèle Verhaert, Omar Saddiqi, Johan Yans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The Imini mining district (southern foreland of the intraplate Atlasic belt of Morocco) hosts the largest Mn resources of North Africa, consisting of two laterally extensive bodies of high-grade pyrolusite-rich manganese ore and a third discontinuous medium-grade coronadite-rich Mn ore in a ~ 10–15-m-thick Cenomanian–Turonian dolostone unit. Until now, the origin and timing of the Mn ore have been poorly constrained. New Pb isotopic ratios show that Triassic series (basalts and ferruginous sandstone) are likely the source of the metals. 40Ar/39Ar dating of K-Mn oxides shows that the Mn-rich orebodies formed during at least three periods: late Cretaceous to late Paleocene (> 58 Ma), late Eocene (ca. 36.3 Ma), and early Burdigalian to early Serravalian probably in two pulses at ca. 19–20 Ma and ca. 13 Ma. These periods coincide with three known building phases of the Atlasic relief during late Cretaceous, late Eocene, and the Early(?)-Middle Miocene. We therefore propose the Atlasic tectonics as the first-order control of the Mn mineralization. Periods with regionally high elevations modified the climate to wetter conditions that supplied meteoric water to feed temporary aquifers. Relief building created the required hydraulic head to sustain (1) fluid-rock interaction between O2-poor acidic fluids and the Triassic series, (2) migration of the metal-rich fluid, and (3) to overpressure fluid in the Imini depositional site. The decreasing thickness of Triassic series in front of the Imini anticline forced these low-temperature (< 100 °C) fluids to mix with oxygenated and alkaline ground waters in the karst system and precipitate Mn oxides. The N70°-oriented Atlasic tectonic structure controls the orientation of the Mn deposits. The late Eocene–Early/Middle Miocene uplifts generated additional supplies and/or in situ remobilization of the primary late Cretaceous medium-grade ore to form the high-grade pyrolusite-rich ore. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMineralium Deposita
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2023


    • Ar/Ar dating
    • Geodynamics
    • K-Mn oxides
    • Ore deposits
    • Pb isotopes


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