Origin of the Moroccan Touissit-Bou Beker and Jbel Bou Dahar supergene non-sulfide biomineralization and its relevance to microbiological activity, late Miocene uplift and climate changes

Mohammed Bouabdellah, Wissale BOUKIROU, Adriana Potra, Erik Melchiorre, Hassan Bouzahzah, Johan Yans, Khadra Zaid, Mohammed Idbaroud, Julien Poot, Augustin Dekoninck, Gilles Levresse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Through integration of Pb-Zn ± Cu non-sulfide mineralogy, texture, and stable isotope (C, O, S) geochemistry, the world-class Touissit- Bou Beker and Jbel Bou Dahar Mississippi Valley-type districts of the Moroccan Atlasic system have been investigated in order to gain insights into the origin and processes that contributed to the formation of the base metal non-sulfide mineralization. In both districts, direct replacement (“red calamine”) and wallrock replacement (“white calamine”) ores are observed. Based on the mineral assemblages, ore textures, and crosscutting relations, three distinct mineralizing stages are recognized. The earliest, pre-non-sulfide gossanous stage was a prerequisite for the following supergene stages and constituted the driving force that ultimately promoted the leaching of most base metals such as Zn and Cu and alkalis from their rock sources. The following two stages, referred to as the main supergene “red calamine” and late “white calamine” ore stages, generated the bulk of mineable “calamine” ores in the Touissit-Bou Beker and Jbel Bou Dahar districts. Stable isotope compositions (d13CV-PDB, d18OV-SMOW, d34SCDT) support a three-stage model whereby metals were released by supergene acidic fluids and then precipitated by bacteria and archaea-mediated metal-rich meteoric fluids due to a decrease in temperature and/or increase of fO2. Oxygen isotope thermometry indicates decreasing precipitation temperatures with advancing paragenetic sequence from 33° to 18 °C, with wet to semi-arid to arid climatic conditions. The close spatial relationships between coexisting sulfide and non-sulfide mineralization along with stable isotope constraints suggest that the oxidation of sulfides occurred concurrently after the main stage of the Alpine orogeny between 15 Ma and the present. More importantly, the current data show for the first time the involvement of biologically controlled activity as the major driving process that triggered both oxidation and deposition of supergene mineralization at Jbel Bou Dahar and Touissit-Bou Beker districts. Conclusions drawn from this study therefore have implications for supergene Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) -derived non-sulfide deposits worldwide and account for the prominent role of biological processes in the genesis of this category of ore deposits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number401
Number of pages36
JournalMinerals
Volume11
Issue number401
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

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