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Structural, mineralogical, and paleoflow velocity constraints on Hercynian tin mineralization: the Achmmach prospect of the Moroccan Central Massif

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Abstract

The Achmmach tin mineralization (NE of the Moroccan Central Massif) is associated with tourmaline-rich alteration halos, veins, and faults hosted in sandstones and metapelites of the Upper Visean-Namurian. These deposits are reported to be late Hercynian in age and related to the emplacement of late-orogenic granite not outcropping in the studied area. Structural and paragenetic studies of the Achmmach tin deposit were conducted in order to establish a general model of the mineralization. From field constraints, the late Hercynian phase is marked by a transition from transpression to extension with deformation conditions evolving from ductile to brittle environments. The transpression (horizontal shortening direction roughly trending E-W) is coeval with the emplacement of the first tourmaline halos along several conjugated trends (N070, N020, and N120). Thereafter, a tourmaline-rich breccia formed in response to the fracturing of early tourmaline-altered rocks. Subsequently, during the extensional phase, these structures were reactivated as normal faults and breccias, allowing the formation of the main tin mineralization (cassiterite) associated with a wide variety of sulfides (arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, galena, pyrrhotite, bismuthinite, pyrite, and stannite). This evolution ends with fluorite and carbonate deposition. The hydrothermal fluid flow velocity, calculated by applying statistical measures on the tourmaline growth bands, varies with the lithology. Values are lower in metapelites and higher in breccia. In the general evolution model proposed here, tourmaline alteration makes the rock more competent, allowing for brittle fracturing and generation of open space where the main Sn mineralization was precipitated.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank the Kasbah Resources company for constant logistical support, datasets, and scientific support during the entire period of this study. In particular, we would like to thank Wayne Bramwell (Managing Director) for facilitating access, sampling (outcrop and core drill), and logistics, Jeffrey Lindhorst (Exploration Manager), Pierre Chaponniere (Resource Development Manager), Pierrick Couderc, Mustapha Seghir for field assistance and fruitful discussions. We also acknowledge the FSM (Faculté des Sciences de Meknès), the ISTO laboratory (Institut des Sciences de la Terre d’Orléans) for analytical help, the BRGM (Bureau de Recherche Géologique et Minière), and all the persons who contributed to this work: Gabriel Badin and Sylvain Janiec for thin section preparation, and Olivier Rouer and Ida Decarlo for SEM and Electron microprobe analyses. The authors would like to thank the Editors, Georges Beaudoin and Thomas Bissig, as well as Abdellah Boushaba and an anonymous reviewer whose comments have greatly helped to improve this manuscript. This work was funded by the Committee for Integrated Action (Volubilis, N° MA/09/210) in the framework of scientific cooperation between Morocco and France.

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Correspondence to El Mahjoub Mahjoubi.

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Editorial handling: T. Bissig and G. Beaudoin

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Mahjoubi, E.M., Chauvet, A., Badra, L. et al. Structural, mineralogical, and paleoflow velocity constraints on Hercynian tin mineralization: the Achmmach prospect of the Moroccan Central Massif. Miner Deposita 51, 431–451 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-015-0613-0

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Keywords

  • Structural control
  • Breccias
  • Cassiterite
  • Tourmaline
  • Achmmach tin deposit
  • Hercynian Central Massif
  • Morocco