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The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—

Karst-Hosted Deposits of Mn Oxides and

Chapter · June 2016

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-31733-5_22


1 228

5 authors, including:

Augustin Dekoninck Rémi Lepretre

University of Namur Université de Cergy-Pontoise


Omar Saddiqi Jocelyn Barbarand

Université Hassan II de Casablanca Université Paris-Sud 11


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The High-Grade Imini Manganese
District—Karst-Hosted Deposits
of Mn Oxides and Oxyhydroxides

Augustin Dekoninck, Rémi Leprêtre, Omar Saddiqi,

Jocelyn Barbarand and Yans Johan

For more than 80 years of mining the economically important Imini
district has been the main producer of manganese in Morocco. Three
stratabound manganiferous orebodies in the district are hosted in a
10-m-thick Cenomanian-Turonian dolostone that records the effects of
laterally extensive dissolution and epigenetic processes. The predomi-
nance of pyrolusite, accompanied by minor amounts of hollandite group
minerals (cryptomelane, hollandite s.s., coronadite), lithiophorite, and
romanechite, provide a high grade ore having more than 70 wt% MnO and
low contents of SiO2, Fe2O3, and P2O5. One metallogenic model suggests
the main mineralization stage was related to a period of terrestrial
exposure and weathering, leading to formation of an extensive karst
system, following host rock deposition and dolomitization. This model
envisages Mn mineralization prior to the deposition of Coniacian-
Maastrichitan (Senonian) red beds, carbonates, and evaporites. A variety
of data shows that the ore beds formed by epigenetic processes, in which
Mn precipitation occurred with increasing pH and Eh. These physico-
chemical conditions are linked to dolomite dissolution and the influx of
oxygenated meteoric waters, probably in contact with deeper O2-depleted
meteoric groundwaters, and to surficial saline solutions and/or microbial

A. Dekoninck (&)  Y. Johan

Département de Géologie, NaGRIDD,
Université de Namur, 61 rue de Bruxelles,
5000 Namur, Belgium
e-mail: Augustin.dekoninck@unamur.be
R. Leprêtre  J. Barbarand
GEOPS, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS,
Université Paris-Saclay, rue du Belvédère,
Bât. 504, 91405 Orsay, France
O. Saddiqi
Laboratoire Géosciences, Université Hassan II,
BP 5366, Maârif, Casablanca, Morocco

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016 575

M. Bouabdellah and J.F. Slack (eds.), Mineral Deposits of North Africa,
Mineral Resource Reviews, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-31733-5_22
576 A. Dekoninck et al.

activity. The Cenozoic construction of the Atlas Mountains probably

remobilized or at least reworked previously formed manganese

and for the steel industry with a lower concen-

1 Introduction
tration of 40–48 wt% MnO2. The main economic
markets for Imini manganese products are in
The first evidence of black Mn-rich zones in
South Africa and China, but negotiations are in
Cenomanian-Turonian strata of the Imini district
progress to fulfill European and other Asian
(Fig. 1a, b) was recorded in 1918, but mining did
demands (SACEM 2013).
not begin until 1929 by “Société Anonyme
The unusual high grade of the manganese ore is
Chérifienne d’Études Minières” (Gandini 2011;
due to the predominance of pyrolusite in two
SACEM 2013). In 1957, annual production
stratabound orebodies hosted in the lower part of a
reached 18.1 % of the world market. After sev-
relatively thin succession of Cenomanian-
eral decades of economic problems, annual pro-
Turonian carbonate strata (C1 and C2 in Fig. 1c).
duction returned to 88 kt in 2013 (Lesavre 1975;
A third orebody above the host dolomite contains
SACEM 2013). Currently, the high grades of the
a greater proportion of hollandite group minerals,
ore and low contents of SiO2 (avg 4.58 wt%),
yielding lower Mn grade ore and higher contents
Fe2O3 (avg 0.09 wt%), and P2O5 (avg 0.11 wt%)
of other metals (C3 in Fig. 1c). Most previous
(Table 1, Gutzmer et al. 2006; Dekoninck et al.
contributions ascribed the manganese mineral-
2016), allows the Imini district to produce a
ization to a synsedimentary origin based on the
highly competitive product for the chemical
laterally continuous and stratiform character of the
industry with a concentrate of 74–92 wt% MnO2,

Fig. 1 a Location of Imini district, south of South Atlas deposit showing three stratabound Mn levels (C1, C2, C3;
Front (SAF). b Simplified geological map of Imini district west of the district, modified after Gutzmer et al. 2006).
showing distribution of Mn orebodies hosted in Designation of three sedimentary systems (S1, S2, S3) are
Cenomanian-Turonian dolostone (modified after Lalaoui from Rhalmi et al. (2000)
et al. 1991). c Detailed stratigraphic column of Lantenois
Table 1 Geochemistry of internal karst-fill sediments, manganese orebodies, and distal and proximal host rocks of the Imini district
Sample IM20 IM26 IM43d LAN58 LAN61 ECH98b ECH102b IM37 IM22 IM29 LAN51 IM41c ECH101b IM43m LAN52 ECH76 ECH77 ECH79 ECH81 ECH85
Locality Timkit Lantenois Bou Aggioun Timkit Lantenois Far Bou Lantenois Larba Taouerda
West Aggioun
Type Proximal dolostone C1 C1-C2 C2 C3 Stockwork Breccia Lt(2) Distal dolostone

SiO2 5 0.88 2.62 8.59 0.75 4.62 2.75 3.59 0.99 0.49 26.74 2.67 7.72 3.16 7.31 0.35 0.35 0.37 0.67 0.58
TiO2 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.05 0.03 0 0 0.29 0.02 0.1 0.04 0.1 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
Al2O3 0.8 0.31 0.56 0.86 0.43 1 1.33 1.39 0.34 1.39 5.71 0.78 2.17 0.76 1.98 0.17 0.17 0.19 0.24 0.17
Fe2O3 0.08 0.05 0.12 0.01 0.07 0.16 0.3 0.17 0.01 <0.01 2.4 0.04 0.59 0.58 0.75 0.03 <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 0.01
MnO 0.54 0.61 0.57 0.38 0.55 63.84 59.75 54.42 82.72 76.37 40.17 67.2 54.69 37.89 1.22 0.13 0.12 0.2 0.13 0.17
MgO 19.16 20.53 21.33 18.6 19.98 0.18 1.13 0.13 0.12 0.14 0.38 0.03 1.73 7.75 18.64 19.75 21.28 20.24 20.27 18.23
CaO 27.79 29.84 28.8 27.34 30.98 3.08 5.65 5.96 1.13 0.13 0.46 0.18 5.76 11.33 26.56 30.86 31 30.31 29.8 33.01
PbO 0 0 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.52 0.44 0.7 0.22 0.29 2.03 2.54 0.29 2.66 0.03 0 0 0 0 0
BaO 0.02 0 0.03 0.02 0.02 2.34 1.71 11.37 1.17 3.37 4.59 6.07 2.4 4.09 0.09 0 0 0 0 0
Na2O 0.03 0.02 0 0.02 0.01 0.18 0.25 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.11 0.25 0.57 0.1 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.04
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits …

K2O 0.24 0.06 0.03 0.26 0.05 4.88 4.61 0.43 0.16 0.25 1.79 1.04 2.22 0.96 0.37 0.02 0.01 0.02 0.02 0.02
P2O5 0.05 0.03 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.14 0.15 0.06 0.03 0.04 0.1 0.09 0.36 0.03 0.05 0.12 0.16 0.24 0.03 0.11
LOI 44.25 46.59 45.75 42.46 46.23 12.43 14.61 13.85 13.16 12.25 8.54 10.29 15.02 23.69 41.82 46.97 47 46.85 46.99 46.45
Total 98.08 99.05 99.94 98.67 99.22 90.65 90.67 80.22 98.79 91.1 86.81 82.69 91.03 86.4 98.92 98.52 100.2 98.53 98.27 98.9
FeO <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Samples were analyzed by Activation Laboratories (Ontario, Canada). Data for major elements were determined by fusion ICP-MS. “Distal” and “proximal” dolostones are defined by distance from known stratabound orebodies C1-C3.
Abbreviations: IS Lt (no.) internal sediment lithotype (no.); N.A. not analyzed
578 A. Dekoninck et al.

orebodies (Neltner 1933; Orcel 1942; Bouladon Turonian stages of the Late Cretaceous (Fig. 1b,
and Jouravsky 1952; Lesavre 1975; Pouit 1980; c; Thein 1990; Gutzmer et al. 2006). The
Force et al. 1986; Thein 1990; Lalaoui et al. 1991; ore-bearing dolostone lies unconformably on
Rhalmi et al. 1997). In contrast, Force et al. (1986) Lower Cretaceous and Triassic red beds, folded
and Thein (1990) proposed a diagenetic origin Paleozoic schists to the north and east, and Pre-
controlled by meteoric waters and seawater. cambrian volcanic rocks of the Anti-Atlas to the
However, the absence of primary sedimentary Mn south (Figs. 1b and 2). The Anti-Atlas Moun-
minerals such as rhodochrosite, the rather strata- tains provided siliciclastic detritus into the
bound character of the orebodies, and their close Cenomanian-Turonian carbonate sediments
spatial and genetic association with karst sedi- (Rhalmi et al. 1997). The *10-m-thick host
ments in the enclosing dolostone, led Gutzmer succession (Fig. 1c) in the Imini district was
et al. (2006) to support an epigenetic karst-hosted dolomitized during diagenesis (Force et al.
origin for the ore, by meteoric waters during 1986). This succession is subdivided into three
post-Turonian diagenesis. Recent studies by sedimentary facies: pink sandy dolostone (S1,
Dekoninck et al. (2016) point out that the epige- littoral margin) and white bioclastic dolostone
netic formation of the Mn oxides occurred after (S2, shallow lagoon), both of upper Cenomanian
dolomitization and late diagenesis. Mineralogical age, and cherty fossiliferous dolostone of lower
associations indicate that ore formation is clearly Turonian age (S3, tidal flat, Fig. 1c; Rhalmi et al.
polyphase, following the first epigenetic mineral- 2000). The Cenomanian transgression is recor-
izing event in the karstic system. Cenozoic tec- ded by flooding of the former fluviatile envi-
tonic activity, due to the exhumation of the Atlas ronment followed by shallowing upward of the
belt further north, probably remobilized and/or platform during the Cenomanian-Turonian stage,
reworked the Mn ore (Leprêtre et al. 2015). The and then by post-Turonian karstification (Thein
present chapter aims to provide an overview of the 1990; Rhalmi et al. 2000). Rhalmi (1992) and
ore-forming processes, from host-rock deposition Gutzmer et al. (2006) proposed that karst caves,
to manganese mineralization, based on field which occur in the Cenomanian-Turonian dolo-
observations and petrography. Also considered stone, were filled by various sediments of
here are new geochemical data acquired on distal Senonian (Coniacian-Maastrichtian) age that also
and proximal host-rock dolostone, as well as on cover the Cenomanian-Turonian sequence by up
the orebodies. to 200 m of red argillaceous sandstone, clays,
limestone, and evaporite (Fig. 2). Deposition of
these terrestrial sediments, sourced from the
2 Geological Setting Anti-Atlas Mountains, continued into the Pale-
ocene (Rhalmi 1992; Saddiqi et al. 2011 and
The Imini district lies in the western part of the references therein). Sedimentation resumed dur-
Ouarzazate foreland basin, within the transition ing Eocene time with the deposition of fossilif-
zone between two main structural domains: the erous shallow marine carbonate and clays, coeval
Central High Atlas Mountains to the north and with quiescent periods between the three main
the Anti-Atlas Mountains to the south (Fig. 1a). constructional stages of the High Atlas Moun-
Lower Mesozoic strata thicken northward and tains (Leprêtre et al. 2015): Late Eocene, Middle
form a sedimentary wedge on the Anti-Atlas to Late Miocene, and post-Miocene. Cenomanian
(Figs. 1b and 2; Zouhri et al. 2008). The Late to Eocene sequence forms broad plateaus more
Triassic red beds follow approximately a N70– or less titled and mildly folded, in contrast to the
80° E direction (purple dotted line in Fig. 1b). nearby South Atlas Front (SAF, Fig. 1a; Leprêtre
Manganese orebodies consist of weakly et al. 2015). Paleozoic basement is exposed
deformed, shallow marine carbonate rocks that typically in valleys underlain by former anticlinal
were deposited during the Cenomanian and cores (Fig. 2). Older Neoproterozoic basement is
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 579

Fig. 2 Schematic cross

section from Pouit (1964)
(above) and field
photograph (below)
illustrating important
attributes of the
geomorphology, and
geology of Imini district.
Legend corresponds to that
in Fig. 1b. Abbreviations:
E Eocene; S Senonian;
CT Cenomanian-Turonian;
iC infra-Cenomanian;
T Triassic; LO Lower
Ordovician; NP
Neoproterozoic. Black
stratabound lenses within
dolostone (green) represent
Mn orebodies

exposed in deeper valleys or where Mesozoic- during a late Atlasic (late ore post-Miocene)
Cenozoic cover unconformably overlies directly phase, at the same time as the related N90° E
on this basement (e.g., to the south in Fig. 1b). Imini Fault that hosts massive vein-type barite
Mn-bearing Cenomanian-Turonian dolostone deposits (Fig. 2). Ore deposits are aligned along
appears as resistant beds below Senonian sand- a N70° E direction, reflecting small-scale defor-
stone (Fig. 2; Gutzmer et al. 2006). mation and large folds. This direction is related
Strata of the Imini district are affected by to the first Eocene constructional phase of the
numerous faults mainly inherited from the Atlas Mountains, leading to strong deformation
Triassic-Jurassic rift system (Missenard et al. focused in a narrow Eocene Atlas belt with minor
2007) and reactivated during the Cenozoic deformation on the borders (Leprêtre et al. 2015).
inversion of the Atlas Mountains (Frizon de
Lamotte et al. 2000). Structures that trend
N90° E to N130° E, as well as N20–30° E to 3 Distribution and Style
N45° E, are well represented in the Precambrian of Mineralization
Anti-Atlas basement, and were reactivated during
the Cenozoic (Leprêtre et al. 2015). The main Manganese ores follow a WSW–ENE trend,
structural feature of the district is the N90° E forming a belt *25 km long and 400–1000 m
Imini anticline (Figs. 1b and 2) that corresponds wide, similar to the N70° E orientation of Atlasic
to the Variscan trend of the Anti-Atlas Major tectonic structures (Dekoninck et al. 2016)
Fault further south (Choubert 1963; Ennih et al. and the Cenomanian-Turonian paleoshoreline
2001; Ennih and Liégeois 2001; Gasquet et al. (Fig. 2, Gutzmer et al. 2006). The northern
2008). The Imini anticline was exhumed again boundary of the ore zone is remarkably straight
580 A. Dekoninck et al.
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 581

b Fig. 3 Main occurrences of manganese mineralization in Dekoninck et al. 2016). d Stratigraphic sequence of
host dolostone and distribution across the district. a Dis- Cenomanian-Turonian and lower part of Senonian show-
solution breccia mineralized and replaced by coarse ing three stratabound orebodies (C1, C2, C3) at Timkit.
pyrolusite. b Botryoidal psilomelane composed of hol- e Stratigraphic columns from west to east across the
landite group minerals in stratabound orebody of the Bou district showing stratabound but not stratiform character
Aguioun mine; tip of hammer head (lower left) provides of Mn orebodies; inset shows plan view of Mn belt and
scale. c Stockwork veinlets composed of Mn oxides and locations of mines (modified after Gutzmer et al. 2006)
oxyhydroxides within bioclastic dolostone (from

and is characterized by an iron-rich front, unlike concentrations of Mn and low Fe2O3 and SiO2
the southern border (Bouladon and Jouravsky (Table 1; Gutzmer et al. 2006; Dekoninck et al.
1952; Pouit 1964; Lesavre 1975; Thein 1990). 2016). The Mn oxide and oxyhydroxide minerals
The peculiar feature of the Imini manganese ores occur mainly as poorly consolidated, soft, and
is the occurrence of only Mn oxide (pyrolusite; easily extracted material. Although manganese
Fig. 3a) and oxyhydroxide minerals (hollandite minerals form veinlets and stockwork (Fig. 3c)
group minerals, lithiophorite, and romanechite; and breccia bodies that cut the host dolostone
Fig. 3b). These minerals provide high (Fig. 3a), economic Mn concentrations are

Fig. 4 Style of internal karst-fill sediments and associ- and relations to dissolution breccia and karst features.
ated manganese orebodies. a Sketch map illustrating c Internal sediment lenses of lithotypes 1 (lt1) and 2 (lt2)
relationship between manganese mineralization and dif- enclosing C2 orebody. Angular clasts of white dolostone
ferent types of internal sediments in underground expo- record collapse of roof material that forms the collapse
sures (modified after Gutzmer et al. 2006). breccia shown at bottom of photograph
b Underground exposure of C1 and C2 mineralized level
582 A. Dekoninck et al.

restricted to three stratabound orebodies, infor- 4.1 Host Dolostone

mally known from base to top, as C1, C2, and C3
(Figs. 1c and 3d). Their spacing and stratigraphic Force et al. (1986) and Thein (1990) proposed a
position differ within the district, and as a result proximal saline environment for sedimentation of
Gutzmer et al. (2006) described the orebodies as the Cenomanian-Turonian host dolostone. The
stratabound rather than stratiform (Fig. 3e). The only remains of such processes are quartz, feld-
orebodies may correspond to a network of sub- spar, and accessory mineral relics, anhydrite
horizontal epigenetic veinlets and lenses that ghosts (Fig. 5a; Rhalmi 1992; Dekoninck et al.
formed in a karstic environment (Fig. 4a, b, c). 2016), and brachiopod shells and organism
C1 and C2 (1–2.5 m thick; Gebert 1989) form the imprints (Fig. 5b; Rhalmi et al. 1997). Primary
most continuous and closely spaced layers, calcite or aragonite sediments were affected by
respectively located in the sandy dolostone (S1) widespread dolomitization in a mixing zone
and the lowermost part of the main fossiliferous between meteoric and marine waters during early
unit (S2) (Figs. 1c and 3e). These two orebodies diagenesis, resulting in the formation of massive
are both separated by laterally discontinuous dolomite microspar that obscures original tex-
sandstone lenses and contain a predominance tures (Fig. 5c; Force et al. 1986; Rhalmi 1992;
(5–75 vol.%) of coarse-grained pyrolusite Rhalmi et al. 1997). Early dolomite was subse-
(Lesavre 1975), accounting for most of the quently replaced by pseudosparitic dolomite
manganese resources of the district. The third rhombs (25–150 µm), mainly within the bio-
orebody (C3) is less laterally continuous and clastic dolostone, during dissolution by meteoric
thinner than C1 and C2, owing to its location at waters (Fig. 5c). Some dolomite rhombs have a
the boundary of the second and third sedimentary thin rim of calcite, which may reflect dedolomi-
systems (S2 and S3), close to erosional uncon- tization or chemical zoning during growth
formities (Fig. 3e). The C3 orebody is composed (Gutzmer et al. 2006). Dolomitization enhanced
mainly of hollandite group minerals (XMn8O16 the permeability of the host rock, creating
where X = Ba, Pb, or K), which locally are porosity prior to the main stage of mineralization.
strongly enriched in Pb (Table 1; Gutzmer et al. Recent meteorically formed calcite and arago-
2006, Dekoninck et al. 2016). Brecciated zones nite, and to a lesser extent coronadite and halite,
reflect active dissolution of the host dolostone filled fractures and remnant porosity of the
where mineralization formed. Collapse breccias dolostone during the end of ore formation
in the district formed by physical collapse of roof (Fig. 5c; Dekoninck et al. 2016). Although only
materials, whereas dissolution breccias (or proximal dolostone contains disseminated Mn
pseudobreccias) formed by chemical dissolution oxides and oxyhydroxides, both proximal and
concurrent with stockwork mineralization distal dolostones contain small bedding-parallel
(Fig. 4b, c). Stockworks and veinlets mainly nodules composed of Fe oxides (goethite and
occur in the footwall and hangingwall of karstic hematite; Fig. 5d) associated with calcite.
zones (Figs. 3c and 4a; Gutzmer et al. 2006).

4.2 Internal Karst-Fill Sediments

4 Mineralogy and Petrology
Gutzmer et al. (2006) suggested that the devel-
Detailed studies of mineralogy and petrography opment of a karstic network in the Imini district
have refined information about the ore petrology. is linked to proximity of a paleosurface to the
Force et al. (1986), Thein (1990), and Rhalmi Senonian strata, and to Cenozoic uplift of the
(1992) focused their observations on the host Atlas Mountains. The caves are filled by five
dolostone, whereas Gutzmer et al. (2006) and types of siliciclastic sediments called “lithotypes”
Dekoninck et al. (2016) studied the ore miner- (lt), which formed prior to, during, and after
alogy and petrography. epigenetic manganese mineralization (Fig. 4a, c):
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 583

Fig. 5 Petrography of the host dolostone. a Photomicro- sequence. c Photomicrograph (transmitted light) of
graph (transmitted light) of anhydrite ghost (laths) filled fine-grained, early diagenetic dolomite microspar, late
by late meteoric dolomite rhombs within dolomite meteoric diagenetic dolomite rhombs, and recent cement
microspar matrix of a distal dolostone. Presence of former of coarse-grained aragonite, within distal dolostone.
anhydrite suggests deposition in a saline environment. d Fe-oxide nodules with calcite in distal host dolostone
b Fossiliferous dolostone in distal Cenomanian-Turonian

lt1 predates Mn ore deposition based on the and warm in the Upper Turonian, to arid and
replacement of chocolate brown clay by Mn warm in the Senonian (Rhalmi 1992). Based on
oxides, lt2 overlies the main ore zone with red to these relationships, Gutzmer et al. (2006) pro-
cream laminated clay containing dolomite nod- posed a Senonian age for these sediments,
ules at its base, lt3 and lt4 contain reworked probably 5 m.y. after the Turonian fall in sea
grains of Mn ore indicating that they postdate the level. This model is supported by the observation
main ore deposition, lt5 is a recent flowstone that the manganese ores were exposed along a
encrusting dolostone fragments, marked by pre- pre-Senonian erosion surface.
dominance of authigenic kaolinite with variable
amounts of authigenic dolomite, quartz, Mn
oxyhydroxides, and pyrolusite. Gutzmer et al. 4.3 Manganese Ore
(2006) also considered that lt4 is the equivalent
of the Senonian red beds. The occurrence of The peculiar feature of the Imini orebodies is the
dolomite nodules in lt2 marks the stratigraphic occurrence of exclusively Mn oxides and oxy-
limit of manganese mineralization that could hydroxides in the form of pyrolusite (MnO2),
represent a change in physicochemical conditions hollandite group minerals, romanechite [(Ba,
in the karst system. This level has been attributed H2O)Mn5O10], and lithiophorite [(Al, Li)
to a pronounced change in climate, from humid MnO2(OH)2]—minerals normally found in
584 A. Dekoninck et al.

Fig. 6 Petrography of Mn ore zones by Scanning and coronadite; this indicates that the colloform aggre-
Electron Microscopy. a Coarse pyrolusite containing gates formed after Mn mineralization of the host epige-
hollandite s.s. rhombs indicating that pyrolusite is para- nesist dolostone. e Recent coronadite followed by calcite
genetically early; note late calcite or aragonite fills or aragonite filling open space in host dolostone (Dekon-
fractures in pyrolusite. b Coronadite replaces late diage- inck et al. 2016); this image documents the role of
netic rhombs of dolomite. c Corrosion and replacement of porosity in ore precipitation. f Association of lithiophorite
quartz and feldspars by hollandite s.s.; barite formed at laths and romanechite; internal network of small filaments
end of the paragenesis. d Colloform aggregates of may reflect bacterial control on Mn mineralization
cryptomelane grow on manganiferous matrix composed (Dekoninck et al. 2016)
of dolomite rhombs that are replaced by hollandite s.s.

supergene manganese deposits (Dekoninck et al. mineralization present in stratabound lenses

2016). Pyrolusite forms coarse prismatic crystals (Fig. 4b, c), cemented breccias (Fig. 3a), and
(Figs. 3a and 6a) and accounts for most of the stockworks (Fig. 3c). Pyrolusite crystalized
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 585

during early and late stages of mineralization dolomite matrix by Mn oxides (Fig. 6d). Late
(Fig. 6a). Hollandite group minerals display coronadite is associated with a late calcite that
complete solid solutions between cryptomelane fills porosity of the dolostone (Fig. 6e). Hence,
(KMn8O16), hollandite s.s. (BaMn8O16), and the presence of hollandite group minerals shows
coronadite (PbMn8O16), all of which are com- that ore deposition is clearly polyphase, even
monly associated with pyrolusite in open spaces, after the first mineralization (Senonian in age;
but form hard levels in the C3 orebody. These Gutzmer et al. 2006). Romanechite is uniformly
minerals replace both early dolomite microspar associated with these minerals and forms
and late dolomite rhombs by epigenetic pro- fine-grained homogeneous masses (Fig. 6f).
cesses (Fig. 6b), supporting the premise that Barite is associated with Ba-rich romanechite and
hollandite group minerals postdate dolomitiza- hollandite s.s. in the form of thin veinlets or
tion and late diagenesis. Quartz and feldspars are small masses within Ba-rich manganese oxyhy-
partly replaced by hollandite group minerals, droxides (Fig. 6c). Barite, rarely observed,
indicating highly alkaline conditions for ore formed at the end of the mineralizing sequence.
formation (Fig. 6c; Dekoninck et al. 2016). Lithiophorite is disseminated as small inclusions
Colloform aggregates of hollandite group min- or larger masses within the Ba-rich colloform Mn
erals (mainly cryptomelane) formed during oxyhydroxides (Fig. 6f). Paragenesis of the Imini
brecciation stages after the replacement of the deposits is summarized in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7 Preliminary paragenetic sequence for Mn deposits dolomite by cryptomelane; CoR replacement of dolomite
of Imini district (Dekoninck et al. 2016) showing that by coronadite; HoC colloform hollandite s.s.; CryC
manganese ore deposition was polyphase. HoR, replace- colloform cryptomelane; CoC colloform coronadite; CoL
ment of dolomite by hollandite s.s.; CryR, replacement of late coronadite, Triangle symbols, main brecciation events
586 A. Dekoninck et al.

5 Geochemistry 5.3 Manganese Ores

5.1 Host Dolostone Ore samples were collected selectively from

stratabound bodies, breccias, and stockworks.
The dolostone host to the Mn orebodies has a The most distinctive feature of the manganese
major element composition close to pure dolo- ores of the Imini district is the high contents of
mite without significant detrital components MnO (typically >70 wt% MnO, Table 1), which
(Table 1). Both distal and proximal dolostones is augmented by very low Fe2O3 (and SiO2,
display typical flat and depleted REE patterns of Al2O3, TiO2, and P2O5; Table 1) compared to
carbonate rocks (LaN/YbN 1.16–2.29, Table 2) other Mn deposits (<0.6 wt% Fe2O3; Table 1;
with large negative Ce anomalies (Ce/Ce* 0.39– e.g., Maynard 2014). The observed enrichments
0.63, Fig. 8a; Piper 1974; Palmer 1985). The in Ba, Pb, and K, as well as Cu, Sr, and V, are
presence of Mn oxyhydroxides has a significant related to the abundance of hollandite group
effect on the bulk compositions: (1) Mn con- minerals (Table 1), but not for other metals such
centrations of distal dolostone (0.12–0.2 wt% as Zn, Ni, Co, As, Cr, Rb, La, and Ce that
MnO) are characteristic of Phanerozoic dolo- commonly are much higher than in other Mn
stone (trace to 0.2 wt% MnO, Hill et al. 1967), deposits (Tables 2 and 3; Gutzmer et al. 2006).
whereas proximal dolostone has much higher Using a discrimination plot proposed by
MnO contents (0.38–0.61 wt% MnO; Table 1) Nicholson (1992), a high concentration of Pb
due to the occurrence of finely dispersed Mn (and Ba, Table 1) within the hollandite group
oxyhydroxides (Gutzmer et al. 2006); (2) higher minerals reflects a Mn-rich gossan in the Imini
REE contents in proximal than distal dolostone district (Fig. 8b). The low Mn/Fe ratios and
are controlled by the occurrence of dispersed Mn correlation of Fe with detrital elements within the
oxyhydroxides and clay assemblages (Fig. 8a). internal karst-fill sediments suggests that iron
Iron contents are unusually low because Fe2+ is was geochemically decoupled from manganese
nearly absent compared to Fe3+, and Mn/Fe and records weathering processes (Gutzmer et al.
ratios are systematically higher than 1.0 even in 2006; Table 3).
distal dolostone (4.72–13.6, Tables 1 and 3; Hill
et al. 1967).
6 Metallogenic Models
and Classification
5.2 Internal Karst-Fill Sediments
Since 1929, the manganese deposits of the Imini
Whilst internal karst-fill sediments have high district have been attributed to four different
SiO2 concentrations compared to host dolostone, metallogenic models: (1) synsedimentary, (2) di-
the molar ratios of immobile elements are similar agenetic, (3) hydrothermal, and (4) karst-hosted.
(Table 3). This pattern suggests that most of the We summarize below the main aspects of these
clay assemblages of lt1-2 represent the insoluble models.
residue that was preserved during karstification. (1) Most workers have proposed a synsedi-
Dolomite is also an important mineral phase of mentary origin in order to explain the stratiform
authigenic origin in the internal sediments. character of the orebodies (Neltner 1933; Orcel
Geochemical data for REE support this inter- 1942; Bouladon and Jouravsky 1952; Lesavre
pretation based on the presence of identical pat- 1975; Pouit 1980; Force et al. 1986; Thein 1990;
terns in distal and proximal dolostones, as well as Lalaoui et al. 1991; Rhalmi et al. 1997). The
in the internal sediments (Fig. 8a; Gutzmer et al. interbedded orebodies seem to occur between
2006). transitional facies of the dolomite host rock, and
Table 2 Data for rare earth elements (REE) normalized to average Post-Archean Australian Shale (PAAS; Taylor and McLennan 1985)
Sample IM20 IM26 IM43d LAN58 LAN61 ECH98b ECH102b IM37 IM22 IM29 LAN51 IM41c ECH101b IM43m LAN52 ECH76 ECH77 ECH79 ECH81 ECH85
Locality Timkit Lantenois Bou Aggioun Timkit Lantenois Far Bou Lantenois Larba Taouerda
West Aggioun
Type Proximal dolostone C1 C1-C2 C2 C3 Stockwork Breccia Lt(2) Distal dolostone

La 3 2 2 4 3 4 8 6 7 4 31 20 18 8 11 2 2 2 2 2
Ce 4 1 2 4 2 10 14 10 6 10 42 25 23 12 10 1 1 1 1 2
Pr 0.72 0.29 0.3 0.67 0.37 0.63 0.91 2.21 1.53 0.5 4.16 1.89 2.91 0.72 2.38 0.24 0.28 0.24 0.33 0.22
Nd 3.19 1.13 1.22 2.41 1.33 2.18 3.07 9.66 5.54 1.67 14.8 5.82 11.5 2.07 9.66 1 1.21 0.85 1.26 0.96
Sm 0.62 0.19 0.17 0.42 0.25 0.46 0.62 1.82 1.02 0.47 2.49 1.18 2.28 0.53 1.94 0.12 0.13 0.14 0.19 0.12
Eu 0.11 0.04 0.05 0.1 0.06 0.37 0.36 0.34 0.28 0.61 0.38 1.15 0.43 0.7 0.44 0.03 0.03 0.03 0.04 0.03
Gd 0.54 0.18 0.19 0.37 0.29 0.59 0.81 1.89 1.3 0.82 2.14 1.43 2.17 0.78 1.96 0.12 0.12 0.13 0.18 0.15
Tb 0.09 0.04 0.04 0.05 0.04 0.06 0.1 0.22 0.21 0.08 0.31 0.13 0.3 0.06 0.26 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.03 0.02
Dy 0.52 0.19 0.22 0.28 0.21 0.31 0.51 1.13 1.23 0.44 1.61 0.58 1.67 0.26 1.42 0.14 0.12 0.15 0.2 0.12
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits …

Ho 0.09 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.04 0.06 0.1 0.19 0.26 0.1 0.32 0.12 0.3 0.04 0.25 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.02
Er 0.23 0.07 0.11 0.16 0.13 0.18 0.28 0.45 0.71 0.28 0.92 0.34 0.77 0.13 0.55 0.08 0.06 0.1 0.09 0.07
Tm 0.03 0.01 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.03 0.05 0.05 0.09 0.04 0.14 0.05 0.1 0.02 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.01 0.01
Yb 0.2 0.07 0.13 0.14 0.12 0.21 0.34 0.29 0.57 0.23 0.9 0.33 0.64 0.16 0.5 0.08 0.07 0.12 0.09 0.07
Lu 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.04 0.07 0.05 0.09 0.04 0.16 0.05 0.1 0.02 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.01 0.01
Ce/Ce* 2.72 1.31 2.58 2.44 1.90 6.30 5.19 2.75 1.83 7.07 3.70 4.07 3.18 5.00 1.95 1.44 1.34 1.44 1.23 3.02
Determinations by fusion ICP-MS at Activation Laboratories (Ontario, Canada)
588 A. Dekoninck et al.

Fig. 8 Geochemistry of manganese orebodies of Imini sediments indicates that dolomite residues come from
district. a Rare earth element (REE) patterns of internal authigenic deposition during karstification. Proximal
karst-fill sediments (green), and distal (pink) and proximal dolostone contains dispersed grains of Mn oxides. b Zn
(grey) dolostones, normalized to average Post-Archean and Pb concentrations for manganese orebodies from
Australian Shale (PAAS) reference (Taylor and McLen- Gutzmer et al. (2006) and this study plot mainly in
nan 1985). REE patterns of Cenomanian-Turonian dolo- Mn-rich gossan field on discrimination plot of Nicholson
stone are typical of Phanerozoic marine dolostone; (1992). Abbreviations: Do dolomite; Ca calcite; Qz
conservation of the dolostone REE pattern for the internal quartz; Ka kaolinite; Py pyrolusite; Ho hollandite s.s

have been linked to transgressional phases of the minerals, and calcite precipitated concurrently in
Cenomanian-Turonian paleoshoreline (Bouladon the uppermost part of the meteoric zone. The first
and Jouravsky 1952) or to marine paleocurrents Mn-mineral janggunite subsequently formed
(Pouit 1964; Lesavre 1975). The presence of hollandite group minerals followed by pyrolusite
Mn-dolomite below the cherty dolostone in the owing to increased oxidation (Fig. 7; Force et al.
Aghbalou deposit (30 km SW of Imini) and of 1986). Two variants of the model have been
psilomelane interbedded in the dolostone proposed: (i) primary sedimentary manganese
(Lesavre 1975) or chert (Force et al. 1986) sup- was modified by diagenesis, or (ii) Mn oxides
ports this synsedimentary model. Large regional precipitated in a ground-water mixing zone.
halos of minor metals in the surrounding car- A sedimentary origin for the Mn necessarily
bonates record a geochemical anomaly that could implies lower Pb and Ba (Table 1) contents and
be related to remobilization of these metals and the existence of primary sedimentary Mn min-
Mn in an anoxic deep ocean with deposition erals (Force et al. 1986; Lalaoui et al. 1991). On
occurring near the coast where reducing metal- the other hand, precipitation of Mn oxides during
liferous seawater mixed with oxidized ground- diagenesis requires the transport of reduced Mn,
waters (Thein 1990). and the presence of other Mn oxide deposits at
(2) An alternative diagenetic model, proposed the same stratigraphic level in Cenomanian-
by Force et al. (1986) and revisited by Thein Turonian dolostone that formed on the margin
(1990), argues that the host rock became of anoxic seas (Force et al. 1986). Both synsed-
dolomitized in a mixing zone between CO2- imentary and early diagenetic models need to be
bearing fresh groundwater and Mg-bearing saline revisited because Mn oxides in the district form
seawater. In this model, chert, hollandite group stratabound lenses rather than stratiform beds
Table 3 Trace element geochemistry of internal sediments, manganese orebodies, distal and proximal host rocks of Imini district
Sample IM20 IM26 IM43d LAN58 LAN61 ECH98b ECH102b IM37 IM22 IM29 LAN51 IM41c ECH101b IM43m LAN52 ECH76 ECH77 ECH79 ECH81 ECH85
Locality Timkit Lantenois Bou Aggioun Timkit Lantenois Far Bou Lantenois Larba Taouerda
West Aggioun
Type Proximal dolostone C1 C1-C2 C2 C3 Stockwork Breccia Lt(2) Distal dolostone

Mn/Fe 7 14 5 42 9 442 221 354 9159 / 19 1860 ECH101b IM43m LAN52 ECH76 ECH77 ECH79 ECH81 ECH85
V 14 12 9 11 15 1469 874 1795 392 832 522 921 103 72 2 5 / / / 19 Chalcophile
Cu 20 < 10 20 20 10 1510 2170 830 1430 1930 1120 1550 1190 289 53 23 25 26 22 22
Zn <30 80 <30 <30 <30 770 1030 520 110 310 220 50 1500 690 110 <10 <10 <10 <10 <10

Ni <20 <20 <20 <20 <20 40 250 80 40 330 50 30 890 <30 60 140 180 260 260 <30
Co 2 1 2 2 4 1120 2480 540 68 429 190 476 340 <20 <20 <20 <20 <20 <20 <20
As <5 <5 <5 <5 <5 443 230 80 39 153 72 66 1230 135 9 <1 <1 <1 <1 <1
Cr <20 20 30 30 <20 20 40 30 <20 60 110 20 222 49 6 <5 <5 <5 <5 <5 Immobile
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits …

Zr 13 2 14 16 4 17 13 12 7 8 208 12 30 30 40 <20 <20 <20 40 30

Rb 6 2 5 4 <1 15 17 4 <1 <1 39 5 31 18 34 2 1 <1 3 1 Mobile
Sr 61 47 64 59 57 2577 3014 1091 423 449 1464 1912 19 4 14 <1 <1 <1 <1 <1
La 3 2 2 4 3 4 8 6 7 4 31 20 2933 1545 53 47 50 55 45 125 REE
Ce 4 1 2 4 2 10 14 10 6 10 42 25 18 8 11 2 2 2 2 2
V and Sr were analyzed by fusion ICP-MS methods and other elements by FUS-MS. Abbreviations: IS Lt (no.) internal sediment lithotype (no.); N.A. not analyzed
590 A. Dekoninck et al.

(Fig. 3e; Gutzmer et al. 2006), and because the would only lead to a few centimeters of in situ
Mn minerals clearly postdate dolomitization insoluble siliciclastic residue (Gutzmer et al.
(Fig. 7; Dekoninck et al. 2016). 2006). Recent observations in the district of Fe
(3) Close to the Imini area, several epithermal oxide nodules within distal and proximal host
Mn-rich veins that cut both Triassic and Ceno- rocks (Fig. 5d; Dekoninck et al. 2016) suggest an
manian rocks have been attributed to a deep authigenic source for the manganese. However
hydrothermal origin (Westerveld 1951; Pouit and the thickness and the amount of Fe nodules,
Jouravsky 1960). However, such veins are small which could host Mn, are not sufficient to pro-
and local, and do not relate to the main miner- vide the high Mn/Fe ratios and concentration in
alogy of the stratabound ores. We should rather manganese present in the Imini orebodies
expect enrichment in As–Cu–Mo–Pb–V–Zn (Tables 1 and 3). Therefore, both siliciclastic
within hydrothermal Mn deposits, which is not internal sediments and stratabound Mn oxides
observed (Table 3, Fig. 8b; Nicholson 1992). and oxyhydroxides must have been introduced
(4) Moret (1931) suggested a lateritic forma- from one or more external sources during in situ
tion for the Imini deposits following the chemical and mechanical dissolution of the host
Cenomanian-Turonian transgression. However, dolostone (Gutzmer et al. 2006). The presence of
Lesavre (1975) and Beaudoin et al. (1976) pro- compositionally different layers in the colloform
vided the first observations on the role of cryptomelane supports this model (Fig. 6d;
weathering processes in Mn ore concentration Dekoninck et al. 2016). Moreover, the occur-
after the Cenomanian and Turonian. These rence of hollandite s.s. and coronadite provides
authors noted that the host dolostone has pref- large enrichments of Ba and Pb, which are very
erentially undergone weathering and dissolution unusual in synsedimentary Mn deposits (Table 1,
due to its permeable character (Fig. 4a, b, c). Fig. 8b; Nicholson 1992), as coronadite and
Nonetheless, it might be argued that these pro- lithiophorite are normally found in the weather-
cesses only affected the primary Mn concentra- ing zones of hypogene manganese and lead
tions and conserved original sedimentary deposits (Hewett 1971; De Villiers 1983). The
morphology. The main issue is the low solubility proposed external input of manganese gives to
of Mn4+ in meteoric waters (Lesavre 1975; the Imini deposits an unusual feature compared
Beaudoin et al. 1976). Geochemical data and to other well-known karst-hosted Mn deposits,
petrographic observations obtained by Gutzmer such as those in the Postmasburg manganese
et al. (2006), Dekoninck et al. (2016), and in this field of South Africa (Gutzmer and Beukes
study indicate that a karst-hosted model, 1996).
involving epigenetic processes of Mn deposition,
is the best mechanism to explain Mn ores in the
Imini district. The manganese ores are spatially 7 Timing of Manganese
associated with siliciclastic sediments that were Mineralization
washed into the cave system by meteoric waters
and then transported and redistributed by ground The replacement of late diagenetic dolomite
waters (Fig. 4a). Evidence for this process is rhombs by hollandite group minerals (Fig. 6b)
recorded by sedimentary textures and reworked indicates that Mn mineralization occurred after
grains of Mn oxides within internal karst-fill dolomitization and late diagenesis, and therefore
sediments (Fig. 4a), as well as by the dissolution after the Turonian stage (Dekoninck et al. 2016).
and collapse breccias (Figs. 3a and 4b, c; Gutz- Dissolution of the host dolostone led to the for-
mer et al. 2006). Distal dolostone contains only mation of the stratabound manganese orebodies,
trace amounts of manganese and little insoluble within karstic pipes that are connected to the
siliciclastic components such as SiO2 and Al2O3 paleosurface and were infilled by epigenetic
(Table 1). Total dissolution of the host dolostone processes (Fig. 4a, b). Gutzmer et al. (2006)
to form stratabound Mn orebodies, 1–2 m thick, suggested that karstification occurred prior to,
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 591

and continued throughout, manganese oxide Triassic red beds, having formed a stratigraphic
deposition by the early Senonian. However, trap for the Mn ore (Fig. 2). The enrichment in
attempts to accurately date the internal karst-fill Fe minerals to the north and Mn minerals to the
sediments and their origin should be discussed. south may be explained by the flow of meteoric
Age constraints are mainly based on the change waters preferentially in this direction. Iron pre-
in physicochemical conditions in lithotypes cipitates faster in O2-rich environments than
attributed to a climate change between the Upper manganese (e.g., Maynard 2014), a process that
Turonian and Senonian, as well as on the expo- might be responsible for the presence of pyro-
sure of the manganese ores to a pre-Senonian lusite to the north and psilomelane to the south
erosion surface. Moreover, alignment of the (Lesavre 1975).
orebodies along a N70° E direction might indi-
cate a structural origin of the karstification.
However, no tectonic phase is recorded during 8 Fluid Composition and Potential
the Late Cretaceous, which thus argues for a later Metal Sources
mineralization during building of the Atlas
Mountains. During the Cenozoic exhumation of Manganese is a soluble element with a bivalent
the Atlas Mountains (Leprêtre et al. 2015), state in reduced and acidic environments (e.g.,
mineralizing fluids could have percolated down Hem 1963). Aqueous fluids at low temperature
through weak zones such as faults, permeable (<100 °C) can transport significant quantities of
strata, or stratigraphic boundaries in the dolo- Mn, Ba, and Pb only if acidic, at low to moderate
stone, and then reactivated mineral deposition or Eh, and sulphur-poor. The presence of appre-
reworked the previously formed manganiferous ciable sulphate or sulphide ions in fluids leads to
orebodies as well as the karst features (Fig. 9). the precipitation of barite and galena and, under
Alignment of orebodies in the district also might alkaline conditions Ba and Pb form witherite and
be controlled by the paleoshoreline of the cerussite, respectively. However, these minerals

Fig. 9 Time-event chart and revisited metallogenic fluids and potential metal sources. Abbreviations: Py
model for Imini district illustrating multistage character pyrolusite; HGM hollandite group minerals; Co
of ore deposition and likely tectonic control during the coronadite
Cenozoic. See text for discussion on role of mineralizing
592 A. Dekoninck et al.

are absent or scarce in the Imini orebodies. 9 Other Manganese Deposits

Higher temperatures or salt contents would have Hosted in Cenomanian-Turonian
increased the capacity of the fluids to transport Dolostone
Mn, Ba, and Pb (e.g., Seward and Barnes 1997).
Gutzmer et al. (2006) proposed that manganese A small manganese deposit is situated at the
orebodies in the karstic environment formed Upper Souss River, near the village of Tasdremt,
during a period of terrestrial exposure, in which 100 km to the west of the Imini area (Fig. 1a).
the well-developed karst system corresponded to This deposit was mined from 1930 to the 1960s
the mixing vadose zone between O2-rich surficial with reported grades of 39–56 wt% MnO, 4.8–
waters and O2-poor (and mildly acidic) 6.9 wt% PbO, 5.1–7.2 wt% BaO, 0.5–1.1 wt%
low-temperature fluids derived from deeper Fe2O3, and 6.9–26.3 wt% SiO2, including some
sources (Fig. 9). In this model, the latter fluids similarities to the manganese deposits at Imini
ascended through basement rocks and leached (Bouladon and Meune 1951; Bouladon and
metal cations. The laterally extensive cave sys- Jouravsky 1952; Lesavre 1975). The Tasdremt
tem tended to form in the zone of a fluctuating deposit is hosted in Cenomanian-Turonian
ground water table. Fluctuations of this water dolostone and separated from the basement by
table could be responsible for occurrence of the a few meters of red “infra-Cenomanian.” Man-
three epigenetic stratabound orebodies from C1 ganese oxides and oxyhydroxides are dominated
to C3. The presence of modern halite (Dekoninck by coronadite and hollandite s.s. (Lesavre 1975),
et al. 2016) suggests that the Mn-bearing fluids which occur in two irregular layers *0.2 and
also were saline and originated from surface 0.6 m thick that replace some corals and other
input. Dissolution of the host dolostone could organisms. Pyrolusite constitutes a minor mineral
explain the precipitation and epigenetic replace- in contrast to the Imini ores. The deposition of
ment of Mn–Ba–Pb-rich oxyhydroxides and manganese at the Tasdremt deposit is considered
quartz by hollandite group minerals (Fig. 6c; to be synsedimentary (Thein 1990) or linked to
Dekoninck et al. 2016). In addition, the Mn dolomitization (Lesavre 1975). The Aghbalou
accumulation also could have been enhanced by deposit ca. 30 km southwest of Imini (precise
bacterial filament formation, as observed in the location is not known) shows little enrichment of
romanechite-rich samples (Fig. 6f) and also in stratiform Mn and Fe below the cherty dolostone
stromatolites from the upper part of the C3 ore- that corresponds to the C3 orebody. This deposit
body (Lesavre 1975). produced only 5 kt of manganese at an average
Voluminous volcanic rocks of the Anti-Atlas grade of 30 wt% MnO. Manganese there occurs
region may be the ultimate source rocks for the as small needles of coronadite within the host
unusual metal assemblage in the manganese ores dolostone (Lesavre 1975).
of the Imini district. These rocks constitute the
Senonian hinterland to the south of the district,
and contain several manganese, barite, and 10 Conclusions
Pb-rich base-metal deposits (Neltner 1933; Orcel
1942; Westerveld 1951; Bouladon and Jouravsky The Imini district is situated between the Ceno-
1952; Pouit and Jouravsky 1960; Pouit 1964, zoic High Atlas Mountains to the north and the
1976; Lesavre 1975). Also important is the Precambrian Anti-Atlas Mountains to the south.
presence in the volcanic rocks of large amounts For more than 80 years of mining activity it has
of K and Ba in K-feldspar, and base metals in been the main producer of manganese in Mor-
mafic minerals (Gutzmer et al. 2006). An alter- occo because of its high grade (>70 wt% MnO)
native source of the metals could also be the and low contents of SiO2, Fe2O3, and P2O5. The
High Atlas Mountain to the north, where Triassic ore is hosted in a *10-m-thick, Cenomanian-
basalts are exposed (Moret 1931). Turonian sequence, mainly in three stratabound
The High-Grade Imini Manganese District—Karst-Hosted Deposits … 593

levels composed only of Mn oxides and oxyhy- Dekoninck A, Bernard A, Barbarand J, Saint-Bezar B,
droxides. The absence of significant amounts of Missenard Y, Leprêtre R, Saddiqi O, Yans J (2016)
Detailed mineralogy and petrology of manganese
MnO in distal dolostone and in primary minerals, oxyhydroxide deposits of the Imini district (Morocco).
as well as the close spatial relationship between Miner Deposita 51:13–23
internal sediments and ore beds, suggests an Ennih N, Liégeois JP (2001) The Moroccan Anti-Atlas:
epigenetic, karst-filling deposition of manganese the West African craton passive margin with limited
Pan-African activity: implications for the northern
oxides in the Imini area. Ore deposition in the limit of the craton. Precamb Res 112:289–302
district occurred after host-rock formation and Ennih N, Laduron D, Greiling R, Errami E, de Wall H,
diagenesis, probably during post-Turonian kars- Boutaleb M (2001) Superposition de la tectonique
tification of the dolostone, followed by reacti- éburnéenne et panafricaine dans les granitoïdes de la
bordure nord du craton ouest africain, boutonnière de
vation or/and reworking of the Mn minerals Zenaga, Anti-Atlas central, Maroc. J Afr Earth Sci
during Cenozoic uplift(s) of the Atlas Mountains. 32:677–693
Formation of the orebodies implies neutralization Force ER, Back W, Spiker EC, Knauth LP (1986) A
of the host dolostone by fluids to provide the ground-water mixing model for the origin of the Imini
manganese deposit (Cretaceous) of Morocco. Econ
high pH and O2-rich conditions necessary for Geol 81:65–79
manganese precipitation. The stratabound char- Frizon de Lamotte D, Saint Bezar B, Bracène R,
acter of the ore is attributed here to preferential Mercier E (2000) The two main steps of the Atlas
karstification and epigenetic processes, perme- building and geodynamics of the western Mediter-
ranean. Tectonics 19:740–761
ability, and lithological heterogeneities within the Gandini J (2011) Province de Ouarzazate—Les Mines:
dolostone sequence. The main sources for man- Ouarzazate au temps du protectorat. http://www.
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orebodies may be the Anti-Atlas basement or
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Acknowledgments We are grateful to the staff of the (eds) Continental evolution: the geology of Morocco.
Imini mine and to Société Anonyme Chérifienne d’Etude Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, pp 33–64
Minière (SACEM) for hospitality, field authorizations, Gaudefroy G (1960) Caractères distinctifs de la pyrolusite
and guidance on sampling sites. We warmly thank Prof. —ex manganite (application au minerai de l’Imini).
A. Bernard of the Université Libre de Bruxelles for SEM Notes Service Géol Marocain 19:77–86
images and analytical advice, as well as Y. Missenard and Gebert H (1989) Schichtgebundene Manganlagerstätten.
B. Saint-Bézar for helpful discussions on structural fea- F. Enke, Stuttgart 237 pp
tures of the Imini area. Gutzmer J, Beukes NJ (1996) Karst-hosted fresh-water
Paleoproterozoic manganese deposits, Postmasburg,
South Africa. Econ Geol 91:1435–1454
Gutzmer J, Beukes NJ, Rhalmi M, Mukhopadhyay J
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