The megabreccias in the Katanga part of the Neoproterozoic Central African Copperbelt contain up to several km-long blocks and fragments of the Mines Subgroup which host most of the stratiform Cu-Co deposits. New observations, particularly on cores from boreholes drilled at Luiswishi indicate three types of fracturing: 1) brittle post-folding in the Mines Subgroup; 2) hydraulic; and 3) ductile in soft incompetent siltstones of the R.A.T. and Dipeta subgroups. These fracturing phases dislocated the Roan succession into blocks and fragments and, in particular, clearly showed that there is an evolution from an in situ hydraulic fracturing, to a heterometric brecciation implying some movement and abrasion of the fragments. The process points to significant compression, and was accompanied by fluid expulsion and precipitation of dolomite after decompression. Fluid inclusion microthermometry in dolomite grains shows that the fluids were of high salinity and high temperature, suggesting dissolution of evaporites most likely contained in the Roan sedimentary pile. These saline fluids allowed the fluidization of the breccias, facilitating the displacement of the nappes, pinching out (extrusion-like) megabreccias along thrust-faults, and resulting in intrusion of breccias between the blocks or into large fractures. Breccias between the blocks are clearly identified as friction breccias. They contain a fine material, as part of the matrix, resulting from abrasion of the fragments during transportation. Abrasion and attrition explain the rounding of the fragments. A late cementation phase from less saline and lower temperature fluids suggests the addition of meteoric water in the system, and the mixing with the ambient fluids. The minimum burial depth of the meteoric water incursion is estimated at 2.8 km. Such under-saturated fluids may have contributed to the dissolution of residual evaporites and of the evaporitic material from the Kiubo rocks at the base of the nappes, and led to further brecciation, possibly explaining the multi-phase features of the breccia. The megabreccias occur at the base of the thrusts sheets and are marked by thrust-fault zones. Results of the study support a process of formation of the megabreccias related to a fold-and-trust event, and invalidate a syn-orogenic sedimentary origin as an olistostrome formed by subaqueous conglomeratic debris flows and clastic syn-orogenic sediments. They also contradict a pure salt tectonic hypothesis that propose the extrusions and enlargements of allochthonous evaporites-gigabreccia before the Lufilian deformation. However, the model is compatible with a “fluid behaviour” of pressured saline fluids trapped in folds and/or thrust sheets, and resulting from evaporites dissolution at variable depth.
Journal of African Earth Sciences – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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