Controls of gold-quartz vein formation during regional folding in amphibolite-facies, marble-dominated metasediments of the Navachab gold mine in the Pan-African Damara Belt, Namibia
The Navachab gold mine in central Namibia is situated in amphibolite-facies, marble-dominated metasediments of the Neoproterozoic Damara Sequence in the Pan-African Damara Belt. Gold mineralization is hosted by two main, and at least three minor, sets of auriferous quartz-veins that are developed on the subvertical northwestern limb of the regional-scale, shallow doublyplunging anticline of the Karibib dome. The orientation, relative timing and progressive deformation of quartz veins indicate that veining occurred during folding and fold amplification of the Karibib dome. This deformation forms part of the main phase of northwest-directed collisional tectonics in the Damara belt at ∼540 to 550 Ma. The two main vein sets include (1) bedding-pa rallel, shallowly-plunging ore lenses and shoots situated at the base of a prominent marble unit, and (2) a laterally extensive swarm of shallowly-dipping quartz veins that truncate the host rocks at high angles. The bulk of the bedding-parallel lenses represent dilational jogs that opened during flexural flow along bedding-parallel slip planes during the amplification of the Karibib dome. Flexural flow and associated bedding-parallel fluid infiltration were concentrated close to the contact between marbles and the underlying siliciclastic formations. This lithological contact, in particular, represented a pronounced rheological contrast resulting in increased slip rates during fold amplification. The highly discordant sets of shallowly-dipping, sheeted quartz veins were emplaced during the fold lock-up stage of the Karibib dome. Quartz veining occurred when the northwestern limb of the dome was rotated to subvertical attitudes, so that bedding-parallel flexural slip ceased to be active. Extensional fracturing and veining was facilitated by the presence of transiently supralithostatic fluid pressures. The high-amplitude fluid pressure cycling associated with extensional fracturing is likely to have triggered gold precipitation in the shallowly-dipping veins. Although bedding-parallel veins and discordant veins are broadly contemporaneous, related to the regional-scale D2 phase of fold-and-thrust tectonics, cross-cutting relationships between the two main vein systems indicate that the two vein sets have represented separate entities and succeeded each other rather than forming an interconnected fracture mesh. © 2005 Geological Society of South Africa.