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Investigating high zircon concentrations in the fine fraction of stream sediments draining the Pan-African Dahomeyan Terrace in Nigeria

Key, Roger M.; Johnson, Christopher C.; Horstwood, Matthew S.A.; Lapworth, Dan J.; Knights, Katherine V.; Kemp, Simon J.; Watts, Michael; Gillespie, Martin; Adekanmi, Michael; Arisekola, Tunde. 2012 Investigating high zircon concentrations in the fine fraction of stream sediments draining the Pan-African Dahomeyan Terrace in Nigeria. Applied Geochemistry, 27 (8). 1525-1539. 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.04.009

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Abstract/Summary

Sixteen hundred stream sediments (<150 μm fraction) collected during regional geochemical surveys in central and SW Nigeria have high median and maximum concentrations of Zr that exceed corresponding Zr concentrations found in stream sediments collected from elsewhere in the World with similar bedrock geology. X-ray diffraction studies on a sub-set of the analysed stream sediments showed that Zr is predominantly found in detrital zircon grains. However, the main proximal source rocks (Pan-African ‘Older Granites’ of Nigeria and their Proterozoic migmatitic gneiss country rocks) are not enriched in zircon (or Zr). Nevertheless, U-Pb LA-ICP-MS dating with cathodoluminescence imaging on detrital zircons, both from stream sediment samples and underlying Pan-African ‘Older Granites’ confirms a local bedrock source for the stream sediment zircons. A combination of tropical/chemical weathering and continuous physical weathering, both by ‘wet season’ flash flooding and ‘dry season’ unidirectional winds are interpreted to have effectively broken down bedrock silicate minerals and removed much of the resultant clay phases, thereby increasing the Zr contents in stream sediments. The strong correlation between winnowing index (Th/Al) and Zr concentration across the study area support this interpretation. Therefore, ‘anomalous’ high values of Zr, as well as other elements concentrated in resistant ‘heavy’ minerals in Nigeria’s streams may not reflect proximal bedrock concentrations of these elements. This conclusion has important implications for using stream sediment chemistry as an exploration tool in Nigeria for primary metal deposits associated with heavy minerals.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.04.009
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Land Use, Planning and Development
ISSN: 0883-2927
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Chemistry
Related URLs:
Date made live: 02 Aug 2012 08:16
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/18967

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