The age of supergene manganese deposits in Katanga and its implications for the Neogene evolution of the African Great Lakes Region

Thierry De Putter, Gilles Ruffet, Johan Yans, Florias Mees

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Supergene manganese deposits commonly contain K-rich Mn oxides with tunnel structure, such as cryptomelane, which are suitable for radiometric dating using the 39Ar-40Ar method. In Africa, Mn deposits have been dated by this method for localities in western and southern parts of the continent, whereas only some preliminary data are available for Central Africa. Here we present new 39Ar-40Ar ages for Mn oxide samples of the Kisenge deposit, in southwestern Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The samples represent supergene Mn oxide deposits that formed at the expense of primary Paleoproterozoic rhodochrosite-dominated carbonate ores. Main phases of Mn oxide formation are dated at c. 10.5Ma, 3.6Ma and 2.6Ma for a core that crosses a mineralized interval. The latter shows a decrease in age with increasing depth, recording downward penetration of a weathering front. Surface samples of the Kisenge deposits also record a ≥c.19.2Ma phase, as well as c. 15.7Ma, 14.2Ma and 13.6Ma phases. The obtained ages correspond to distinct periods of paleosurface development and stability during the Mio-Pliocene in Katanga. Because Katanga is a key area bordered to the North by the Congo Basin and to the East by the East African Rift System, these ages also provide constraints for the geodynamic evolution of the entire region. For the Mio-Pliocene, the Kisenge deposits record ages that are not systematically found elsewhere in Africa, although the 10.5-11Ma event corresponds to a roughly simultaneous event in the Kalahari Manganese Field, South Africa. The rest of the Katanga paleosurface record differs somewhat from records for other parts of Africa, for which older, Eocene ages have been obtained. This difference is most probably related to the specific regional geodynamic context: uplift of the East African Plateau, with associated erosion, and the opening of the East African Rift System at c. 25Ma are events whose effects, in the study area, interfere with those of processes responsible for the development of continent-wide paleosurfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-362
Number of pages13
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • <sup>39</sup>Ar-<sup>40</sup>Ar geochronology
  • Cryptomelane
  • Katanga
  • Neogene
  • Supergene deposits


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