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Microplaty hematite ore in the Yilgarn Province of Western Australia: the geology and genesis of the Wiluna West iron ore deposits

Microplaty hematite ore in the Yilgarn Province of Western Australia: the geology and genesis of the Wiluna West iron ore deposits
Microplaty hematite ore in the Yilgarn Province of Western Australia: the geology and genesis of the Wiluna West iron ore deposits
The Wiluna West small (~ 130 Mt) high-grade bedded hematite ore deposits, consisting of anhedral hematite mesobands interbedded with porous layers of acicular hematite, show similar textural and mineralogical properties to the premium high-grade low-phosphorous direct-shipping ore from Pilbara sites such as Mt Tom Price, Mt Whaleback, etc., in the Hamersley Province and Goldsworthy, Shay Gap and Yarrie on the northern margin of the Pilbara craton. Both margins of the Pilbara Craton and the northern margin of the Yilgarn craton were subjected to sub-aerial erosion in the Paleoproterozoic era followed by marine transgressions but unlike the Hamersley Basin, the JFGB was covered by comparatively thin epeirogenic sediments and not subjected to Proterozoic deformation or burial metamorphism. The Joyner's Find greenstone belt (JFGB) in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia was exhumed by middle to late Cenozoic erosion of a cover of unmetamorphosed and relatively undeformed Paleoproterozoic epeirogenic sedimentary rocks that preserved the JFGB unaltered for nearly 2 Ga; thus providing a unique snapshot of the early Proterozoic environment.

Acicular hematite, pseudomorphous after acicular iron silicate, is only found in iron ore and BIF that was exposed to subaerial deep-weathering in early Paleoproterozoic times (pre 2.2 Ga) and in the overlying unconformable Paleoproterozoic conglomerate derived from these rocks and is absent from unweathered rocks (Lascelles, 2002). High-grade ore and BIF weathered during later subaerial erosion cycles contain anhedral hematite and acicular pseudomorphous goethite. The acicular hematite was formed from goethite pseudomorphs of silicate minerals by dehydration in the vadose zone under extreme aridity during early Paleoproterozoic subaerial weathering.

The principal high-grade hematite deposits at Wiluna West are interpreted as bedded ore bodies that formed from BIF by loss of chert bands during diagenesis and have been locally enriched to massive hematite by the introduction of hydrothermal specular hematite. No trace of chert bands are present in the deep saprolitic hematite and hematite–goethite ore in direct contrast to shallow supergene ore in which the trace of chert bands is clearly defined by goethite replacement, voids and detrital fill. Abundant hydrothermal microplaty hematite at Wiluna West is readily distinguished by its crystallinity.

The genesis of the premium ore from the Pilbara Region has been much discussed in the literature and the discovery at Wiluna West provides a unique opportunity to compare the features that are common to both districts and to test genetic models.
Iron ore, Microplaty hematite, Specular hematite, BIF, Archean, Yilgarn Province
0169-1368
309-333
Lascelles, Desmond F.
603a7cde-7b38-46fb-a8e0-f1aa8b89b362
Tsiokos, David S.
628db7e0-beec-41e2-b0b7-0ac37dc3aa7a
Lascelles, Desmond F.
603a7cde-7b38-46fb-a8e0-f1aa8b89b362
Tsiokos, David S.
628db7e0-beec-41e2-b0b7-0ac37dc3aa7a

Lascelles, Desmond F. and Tsiokos, David S. (2015) Microplaty hematite ore in the Yilgarn Province of Western Australia: the geology and genesis of the Wiluna West iron ore deposits. Ore Geology Reviews, 66, 309-333. (doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2014.09.036).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Wiluna West small (~ 130 Mt) high-grade bedded hematite ore deposits, consisting of anhedral hematite mesobands interbedded with porous layers of acicular hematite, show similar textural and mineralogical properties to the premium high-grade low-phosphorous direct-shipping ore from Pilbara sites such as Mt Tom Price, Mt Whaleback, etc., in the Hamersley Province and Goldsworthy, Shay Gap and Yarrie on the northern margin of the Pilbara craton. Both margins of the Pilbara Craton and the northern margin of the Yilgarn craton were subjected to sub-aerial erosion in the Paleoproterozoic era followed by marine transgressions but unlike the Hamersley Basin, the JFGB was covered by comparatively thin epeirogenic sediments and not subjected to Proterozoic deformation or burial metamorphism. The Joyner's Find greenstone belt (JFGB) in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia was exhumed by middle to late Cenozoic erosion of a cover of unmetamorphosed and relatively undeformed Paleoproterozoic epeirogenic sedimentary rocks that preserved the JFGB unaltered for nearly 2 Ga; thus providing a unique snapshot of the early Proterozoic environment.

Acicular hematite, pseudomorphous after acicular iron silicate, is only found in iron ore and BIF that was exposed to subaerial deep-weathering in early Paleoproterozoic times (pre 2.2 Ga) and in the overlying unconformable Paleoproterozoic conglomerate derived from these rocks and is absent from unweathered rocks (Lascelles, 2002). High-grade ore and BIF weathered during later subaerial erosion cycles contain anhedral hematite and acicular pseudomorphous goethite. The acicular hematite was formed from goethite pseudomorphs of silicate minerals by dehydration in the vadose zone under extreme aridity during early Paleoproterozoic subaerial weathering.

The principal high-grade hematite deposits at Wiluna West are interpreted as bedded ore bodies that formed from BIF by loss of chert bands during diagenesis and have been locally enriched to massive hematite by the introduction of hydrothermal specular hematite. No trace of chert bands are present in the deep saprolitic hematite and hematite–goethite ore in direct contrast to shallow supergene ore in which the trace of chert bands is clearly defined by goethite replacement, voids and detrital fill. Abundant hydrothermal microplaty hematite at Wiluna West is readily distinguished by its crystallinity.

The genesis of the premium ore from the Pilbara Region has been much discussed in the literature and the discovery at Wiluna West provides a unique opportunity to compare the features that are common to both districts and to test genetic models.

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More information

Published date: April 2015
Keywords: Iron ore, Microplaty hematite, Specular hematite, BIF, Archean, Yilgarn Province
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 374963
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374963
ISSN: 0169-1368
PURE UUID: e55c46bc-7964-49ec-8da6-5568f53f6375

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Date deposited: 06 Mar 2015 14:28
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 03:16

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Author: Desmond F. Lascelles
Author: David S. Tsiokos

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