Mineral paragenesis of the Kalahari manganese field, South Africa

Jens Gutzmer, Nicolas J. Beukes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


The mineralogy of the manganese ores of the giant Paleoproterozoic Kalahari manganese deposit of the Transvaal Supergroup has been subject of many studies and up to now 135 different ore and gangue minerals have been described, of which eight represent new mineral species. Through correlation of different mineral assemblages with specific geological events and by determining relative ages of minerals in outcrop, hand specimen and under the microscope an attempt is made in this publication to construct a paragenetic sequence for this complex mineral assemblage. Sedimentation and early diagenesis of the Hotazel Formation, composed of interbedded iron formation and braunite lutite, was followed by low-grade metamorphism and associated stratabound metasomatism. Braunite lutite of sedimentary origin, comprising 97% of the total ore reserve, is composed of braunite, hematite and kutnahorite, and abundant early diagenetic kutnahorite and manganoan calcite forming laminae and ovoids. Fluid flow during late diagenesis or lower greenschist facies metamorphism led to stratabound metasomatic oxidation of Mn-bearing carbonates to hausmannite and Mn-poor calcite. Three structurally controlled hydrothermal alteration events succeed metamorphism. These events are referred to as Wessels, Mamatwan and Smartt events. The Wessels alteration event is the oldest of the three events and it is of great economic importance because virtually all of the high-grade ore (> 42% Mn), 3% of the total ore reserve, formed during this event through alteration of carbonate-rich low-grade Mamatwan-type ore (braunite lutite) to high-grade, carbonate-poor Wessels-type manganese ore. This Wessels hydrothermal alteration event took place in the northwestern part of the Kalahari deposit, associated with a system of major north-south- and minor east-west-striking normal faults. The Mamatwan alteration event is observed throughout the Kalahari manganese deposit but alteration is very localized. Reduction halos and discolouration of braunite lutite around fracture or joint-hosted sulphide-carbonate mineralization are typical of the Mamatwan alteration event. In contrast, the Smartt alteration event is characterized by oxidation of braunite lutite and the formation of todorokite and manganomelane. Syn- and Post-Kalahari supergene alteration has taken place below the suboutcrop of the Hotazel Formation against the calcretized sediments of the Cenozoic Kalahari Formation. Cryptomelane and pyrolusite are the predominant products of surficial weathering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-428
Number of pages24
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Kalahari manganese field
  • Manganese ores
  • Mineralogy
  • Paragenetic sequence
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


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