Anda di halaman 1dari 15

Economic Geology

Vol. 59, 1964, pp. 428-442

STRATIGRAPHY AND MINERALOGY OF THE MANGANESE


SEDIMENTARY DEPOSITS OF COQUIMBO PROVINCE, CHILE •

LUIS AGUIRRE AND SONIA MEHECH

CONTENTS
PAGE

Abstract .............................................................. 428


Introduction .......................................................... 428
Stratigraphy .......................................................... 429
Arqueros formation ................................................. 431
Distribution,stratigraphicrelationsand lithology .................... 431
Age and alepositional environment................................. 433
QuebradaMarquesaformation ....................................... 433
Distribution,stratigraphicrelationsand lithology.................... 433
Age and depositional environment................................. 434
Depositionalcyclesof the manganese .................................... 435
Lower Cycle deposits............................................... 435
Middle Cycledeposits.............................................. 437
Upper Cycledeposits............................................... 439
Depositional
environmentandprocesses in the accumulation of manganese
.... 440
Conclusions ........................................................... 441
References ............................................................ 442

ABSTRACT

The stratigraphyof two formationsof Early Cretaceousage exposed


in the Coquimboprovincehas beenstudied. The older Arquerosforma-
tion is marine; the younger,QuebradaMarquesa,is continental,and over-
lies conformablythe Arquerosformation; both units containmanganese
layers.
The stratigraphicsequenceof theseunits showsthat the manganese
deposits
originated
duringthreesedimentary
cycles. Fromtheirlithologic
and paleontologiccharacteristics
it is inferred that the manganesewas
introducedduring submarinevolcanismand that the concentrationand
later deposition
of the manganesetookplaceundernear shoreor lagoonal
conditions.
The manganese minerals,in order of abundance,are braunire,pyrolu-
site, manganite,psilomelane and hausmanite.Piedmontiteis important
as a gangueconstituent.The comparative studyof the mineralsamples
from the differentcyclesrevealsthat psilomelaneis moreabundantin the
Lower Cycleand that hausmanite is foundonly in the Middle Cycle.
INTRODUCTION

Aspartofa program
ofquadrangle
mapping
onthescale
of 1'50,000
andof
detailedstudiesof the manganese
miningdistrictsbeingconducted
by the
x Published
withpermission
of the DirectorInstitutode Investigaciones
Geo16gicas
(IIG),
Chile.
428
M/tNG•INESE SEDIMENTARY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 429

Instituto de InvestigacionesGeo16gicas (IIG) in the Coquimboprovince,the


authorshaveobtaineddetailedinformationon the stratigraphyand mineralogy
of the two manganese-bearing units exposedin that region. These are the
Arqueros formation, of marine origin, and the conformablyoverlying Que-
brada Marquesa formation, which is continental. These units constitutea
north-south trending belt, approximately 25 km wide, in the west-central
part of the province.
This region has been intensivelystudiedfor economicpurposes,because
it containsnumerouscopper,silver,gold, and manganese ore deposits.
The mineralogyof the manganeseore occurringat least at three different
horizonsin the Arquerosand QuebradaMarquesaformationswas determined
throughthe microscopic studyof 55 polishedsectionsof representative sam-
ples; besides,25 thin sectionsof samplesfrom the unmineralizedbeds that
occur above and below the manganese-bearing layers were also studied.
Someof the sampleswere microchemically testedand otherswere studiedby
the X-ray diffractionmethodby Mauricio Tabak of the IIG. Eight of the
mineral samplesconsideredin this report were sent to ProfessorPaul Ram-
dohr of HeidelbergUniversity in West Germany, for study. Credit is given
for the data reported by Prof. :Ramdohr.
The authors are indebted to Messrs. Carlos Ruiz, Director of the Instituto
de InvestigacionesGeo16gicas, and Dr. Jos• Corval/m, geologistof the same
Instituto, who critically revie•vedthe manuscriptand mademany helpful sug-
gestions. Also acknowledged is the collaborationof Gast6nBustamante,engi-
neer of the Empresa Nacional de Mineria and of Lino Tapia, engineerof the
CompafiiaManganesosChile, who gave informationand mineral samplesof
someof the ore deposits. Dr. Jos• Corvalfinand Mr. Kenneth Segerstromof
the U. S. GeologicalSurvey kindly revisedthe Englishtranslation.

STRATIGRAPHY

The manganese-bearingArqueros and Quebrada Marquesa formations


consistof sedimentaryand volcanicrocks,both marine and continental;they
are of Early Cretaceousage. The lower unit, namedArquerosformationby
Aguirre and Egert (1, p. 26), is marine and containsmanganesebeds near
the top. The upper unit, namedQuebradaMarquesaformationby the same
authors (1, p. 28), is continentaland containsmanganeselayers in its middle
and upper parts. The contactbetweenthesetwo units is conformableand, in
places,the top of the older interfingerswith the baseof the younger. In the
index map (Fig. 1), they are undifferentiatedand bear the symbolK1.
Althoughunits of similar lithologyand of the sameage are of wide distri-
bution along the Chilean territory, the occurrenceof manganeseis restricted
almost completelyto the Coquimboprovince,where economicallyimportant
districtsare located(Fig. 3). Theseyield 87 percentof the total production
of manganesein the country with approximately17,000 tons per year (3,
p.
430 L. AGUIRRE AND S. MEHECH

29 ø

30ø -m

LA
SERENA
•) I--

32 ø

•'71
7 7o
MANG•tNESE SEDIMENTsfRY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 4,31

ztrquerosFormation
Distribution,Strati•7raphicRelationsand Litholo#y.--The name Arqueros
formationwas proposedby Aguirre and Egert (1, p. 26) to designatea
sequence of porphyriticandesitesandmarinelimestones containingmanganese
bedsin its upper part. The unit is exposedthroughoutthe length of the

Thickness
(in meters)

EXPLANATION

• Shole
,1• Limestone
'.':•
. Colcoreoussondstone

".'•.• Sondstone
; oF;;•J:•Conglomerote

•:•1
ß Breccio
•1 Tuff
,,,,•:• Flow-brecclo

,•;:•
• Andesire
•'• Porphyritic
ondesite
30
'""•----- 15 •' Mongonese-beoring
bed
35

• Gypsum
Ioyer
d 14o
• Fossil
founo
• Fossil
floro

• 50 I00 I$Om
I I I

f i.

g •5o-200

Fro. 2. Colunmar sectionof the Arqueros and Quebrada Marquesa formations.


432 œ. .4GUIRRE .4ND S. MEHECH

29o45 '

LAMBERT
• ..v,//ArQU['•"'•
RQU
royones ESA
LAMBERT•sn.
Lui,
. Pølm•ø•
Ledncito,•
LLANOO
Ir
ARQUIrRO$

LA
SERENA a• •Romero
••S•o.;oy
30oANDACOLLO
' • 0U•NGUE

•Li9o deAl•odones

•Arroy•n

• Porvenlr

•0 0 , •CorrolQuem•
TRANQUE RECOLETA RIO HURTADO

•Froguo
•o•

50
o50'71ø15' 71ø 70 ø 45'

Fro. 3. Index map showingthe locationof the manganesedistricts


in Coquimboprovince.

Coquimboprovince in its west-centralpart. The type locality is Llano de


Arqueros,at approximately35 km northeastof La Serena.
The Arqueros formation rests unconformablyon the volcanicLa Negra
formationof Jurassicage, and is overlainconformablyby the QuebradaMar-
quesaformation. The following stratigraphicsection(from top to bottom)
representsthe completesequence of the unit and is basedon the measurement
of numeroussectionsat different localities (Fig. 2).
Thickness
a) Grayish-red-purple, porphyritic andesite with aphanitic
groundmassand abundant yellowish-white plagioclasepheno-
crysts 2 to 3 mm long. 30 m
b) Grayish and dusky-red,fine to medium-grainedvolcanic sand-
stone. Manganesebeds,ferruginouschert, and copper-bearing
bedsin someplaces. 15 m
c) Grayish-red (due to weathering), porphyritic andesitewith
grayish-green groundmassin unaltered samples. Tabular
yellowish-whiteplagioclasephenocrysts,approximately2 cm
long. 35 m
M•lN'G./t2?ESESEDIMEN7.4RY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 433

d) Mediumgray, aphaniticlimestone,containingnumeroustubu-
lar rudisticshells (.4#ria blumenbachiStuder), Nerinea, and
corals; alternated limestoneand medium to coarse-grained
calcareoussandstone5 to 10 cm thick; light gray, aphanitic
limestone. Also calcareous breccia with a dusky-red matrix
and angularfragmentsof limestoneand andesite4 to 5 cm
in diameter. 140 m
e) Grayish-red,porphyriticandesitewith grayish-greenground-
massin unalteredsamples. 115 m
f) Mediumto dark gray aphaniticlimestone,with yellowto orange-
yellow weathering surface; it containsabundantOstrea and
a few Pecten (?); pale-yellowchert; grayish purple, medium
to coarse-grained,
calcareoussandstone with abundantOstrea. 100 m
g) Grayish-red,porphyriticandesitewith numerousvesiclesfilled
with zeolites,epidoteand chlorite. 150 m to
200 m
Total thickness:about 585-635 m at the type locality.
•4ge and DepositionalEnvironrnent.--Thebest paleontologic evidence
availableto assignan ageto the Arquerosformation,is the presence
of •/gr/a
blurnenbachi Studer (2, p. 321-324), which indicatesthat the unit is of
Barremian (Early Cretaceous) age.
The fossilcontentand petrographic
characteristics
of the calcareous
mem-
bers of the Arquerosformationindicatethat the unit was depositedin a
littoral environment. Due to a later accumulation of lavas this environment
becameshalloweruntil finally grading into lagoonal. This latter condition
appearsto havebeenwell definedat the beginningof the depositional cycle
of QuebradaMarquesaformation.
QuebradaMarquesa Formation
Distribution,StratigraphicRelationsandLithology.--Thename(•uebrada
Marquesaformationwas proposedby Aguirre and Egert (1, p. 28) for a
sequence of continentalsedimentary rocksand andesiticlava, that contains
manganese-bearing beds at the base of the middle part. In some places,
layersof marinecalcareous sandstone with fragmentsof Ostreaand Trigonia
sp.aft. Trigoniacoihuicoensis Weaverare foundin the basalpart of the unit.
The baseof the formationinterfingerswith the top of the Arquerosformation.
The mosttypicalexposures are foundin (•uebradaMarquesa.40 km eastof
La Serena; severalother sectionsare exposedthroughoutthe province.
The (•uebrada Marquesaformationoverlies,conformably,the Arqueros
formation,and is overlainunconformably by a continentalvolcanicunit of
possibleLate Cretaceous age.
At the type locality,the lithologyof the (•uebradaMarquesaformation,
from top to bottom,is as follows: (Fig. 2).
Thickness
a) Medium gray porphyritic andesitewith aphanitic ground-
massand few tabularplagioclase phenocrysts.The pheno-
crysts are up to 2 mm long; they are partially altered to
hematite and chlorite. Vesicles filled with epidote and
chlorite are abundant. At the baseof the middle part of this
section,there are fine-grainedsandstonesxvith intercalations
of pale grayish red shale. 150-200 m
434 L. .4GUIRRE .4ND S. MEHECH

b) Red clastic unit with the following sub units (from top
to bottom): 150-180 m

1. Coarse conglomerate,matrix formed by grayish purple


red, medium-grained sandstone; predominant clasts are
roundedcobblesof pale grayish purple porphyritic ande-
sire, up to 20 cm in diameter.
2. Grayish red, medium-grained,well stratified sandstone
alternatingwith shale of the samecolor; mudcracksand
rainprints occur in the shale.
3. Medium gray lacustrine limestone; in someplacesit con-
tainsmanganese layersthat are concordant with the strati-
fication; in others,it bearsintercalationsof well laminated
chert.
4. Manganeselayer, very discontinuous
in its lateral extent.
5. Grayishred, medium-grainedsandstone.

c) Yellow sandstoneunit with the following sub units (from top


to bottom): 40 to 60 m

1. Yellowish-olive-gray, calcareoussandstone,medium to
fine-grained;it containsfragmentsof petrified wood and
spherical seedsof 1.5 cm in diameter
2. Olive gray, finely laminated,medium-grainedcalcilutite.
3. Porphyritic andesite with aphanitic groundmassand
abundantphenocrystsof plagioclaseand tabular augite
up to 3 mm long.
4. Gypsumlens.
5. Yellow, fine-grained, calcareous sandstone. In many
placesthe continuityof the yellow sandstoneunit is inter-
rupted by channel structures filled with sedimentary
breccia.

d) Grayish red, fine to medium-grainedsandstonecontaining


manganese(main manganese-bearing bedof QuebradaMar-
quesaformation); orange claystone,gypsumand red sand-
stone 10 to 15 m
e) Pale greenish gray, porphyritic andesitc with aphanitic
groundmass, white plagioclasephenocrysts up to 2.5 mm
long,and abundantamygdules of zeolite,epidote,chalcedony,
chlorite, glauconite and prehnite. 12 to 15 m
f) Coarse conglomerate;the matrix is medium to coarse-
grained sandstone and containsgray, well-roundedcobbles
of porphyriticandesiteup to 30 cm in diameter. Sedimen-
tary breccia(mud flows?), andesiticflow breccia,and inter-
calationsof red porphyriticlava. Reddishgray sandstone
with Ostrea, Exo#yra and Crinoids. Grayish dusky-red
sandstone,tuff and breccia. Total thickness
approx. 800 m
Total thicknessof the QuebradaMarquesaformationat its
1150 to 1300m

AgeandDepositional Environment.--Due
to the scarcity
of stratigraphi-
callysignificant
fossilsin the Quebrada
Marquesa formation,its agecannot
be accuratelydetermined.However,on thebasisof the occurrence of Tri-
M•tNG•tNESE SEDIMENTdRY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 435

#onia sp.aft. Tri#onia coihuicoensis


Weaver, the unit canbe assignedan Early
Cretaceousage.
The conditionsunder which the Quebrada Marquesa formation appears
to have been deposited,are those of a shallow-watermarine environment
rapidly filled with coarseclasticmaterialand lava flows. This filling would
have conditionedthe developmentof marginal lagoonsin which the manga-
nesedepositionand the formation of gypsumlayers would have taken place.
A gradualchangeto continentalconditionsis indicatedby the occurrence of
plant remainsin the sedimentaryunit overlying the manganesebeds. These
conditionsappear to have persistedthroughoutthe depositionof the upper
part of the formation as indicatedby the occurrenceof red sedimentswith
mudcracksand rainprints.

DEPOSITIONAL CYCLES OF TYIE MANGANESE

The occurrence of manganese-bearing bedsat three differentstratigraphic


horizonsin the Arquerosand QuebradaMarquesaformationsand the lith-
ologyof their underlyingand overlyingstratagive enoughbasisto infer that
there was accumulation of manganese during three heterochronous episodes
of sedimentation,here referredto as depositionalcycles. The economically
more important depositsare those of the older Lower and Middle Cycles
whichare widespreadand continuous;the youngest(Upper Cycle) deposits
containonly one thin and discontinuousmanganeselayer.

Lower CycleDeposits
Exposures of the Lower Cycle depositsare found in the Llano de Ar-
queros (Fig. 3) (Palmira, Arrayanesand Leoncitomines), in the upper
courseof the Array•n de Tunilla valley,and in the centralpart of Lambert
quadrangle. In thislastareathesedepositsaremihedat Escondida, SanLuis,
Alto San Luis, Jamelasand other mines. In the west-centraland southern
parts of QuebradaPanguequadrangle, they are minedat Arrayan, Liga de
Algodonesand Porvenir mines.
The manganesein the Lower Cycle depositsoccursin well definedbeds,
varyingin numberfrom oneto three,and havingan averagethicknessof one
meter. Thehighestgradeof thehandpickedoreis 51 percentandthelowest
31 percent. The manganesebedsare intercalated
in a sequenceof grayish
red to duskyred, fine to medium-grained
volcanicsandstone,
12 to 15 m thick,
of theArquerosformation(Fig. 2). The microscopic
studyof representative
samplesof this sandstoneunit showsthat the cement,generallycalcitic,is
scarce:the predominantclastsare of andesiticand traquitic lavas and of
plagioclase;the averagegrain sizeis 0.2 to 0.3 mm. Piedmontiteoccursdis-
seminatedin the cementof the sandstone bedsclosestto the manganese layers.
In someplaces,as in Jamelasand Alto San Luis mines,the manganese
is associatedto a copperbed (chrysocolla, malachite),whicheither overlies
or underliesthe manganese layer.
Severalrepresentativesamplesof the manganese layers occurringin the
436 L. AGUIRRE AND S. MEHECH

d
FIG. 4. (a) Pyrolusitecrystalsradially arranged. Arrayfin mine. X 50.
FIG. 4. (b) Psilomelane showing banded colloform texture. Arrayfin mine.
x 50.
Fro. 4. (½) Alternating bandsof braunite and gangue. Corral Quemadodis-
trict. X 15.
Fro. 4. (d) Euhedral crystalsof braunitedisseminated
in the gangue. X 400
(Oil immersion).
MANGANESE SEDIMENTARY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 437

Lower Cycleweretakenat SanLuis, Escondida,Arrayira and Porvenirmines,


and studiedunder the microscope. The mineralspresentin thesemines are
braunite,pyrolusite,manganiteand psilomelanein order of abundance.
Braunite appearsfinely disseminatedin the gangue, and in places,at
Porvenir mine (according to Ramdohr), showing an octahedrichabit or
constitutingaggregatesof octahedriccrystals.
Pyrolusiteoccursas an alterationproductof braunite,as euhedralcrystals
with clearly defined cleavage; in parts these crystals are radially arranged
(Fig 4a). This type of occurrenceis characteristicin Arrayan mine. In
Porvenir and Array/m minespyrolusiteshowsa botryoidalcolloformtexture;
in somespecimens pyrolusiteis finer in the center,coarserat the edges;others
containalternatingbandsof pyrolusiteand psilomelane.Accordingto Ram-
dohr, in Porvenir mine, pyrolusitein part replacescalcite.
Manganiteis only presentin San Luis and Escondidaminesand it occurs
mainly as numerousneedle-shaped crystals distributedaround the braunite
crystals in the form of a thick border zone; in some specimensmanganite
occursas inclusionsin braunite. Rarely, manganiteoccursfilling veinlets.
Psilomelaneis presentonly at Porvenir and Arrayin mines. In most of
the sampleswhere psilomelaneis present, the texture is banded colloform
(Fig. 4b). In oneof the samples wherethistexturewasobserved, the central
part of the bandsis formedby a very fine aggregateof pyrolusiteand limonite
and the edgesby psilomelane.In somespecimens the psilomelaneoccupies
the centerof the structurewhereaspyrolusiteconstitutesthe edges;in others,
alternatingbandsof both mineralsare observed.
The gangueis constituted chieflyby calcite;in somespecimens, piedmontite
accompanies the carbonate. In Porvenir mine the manganese-bearing layers
havea relict clastictexturecorresponding to sandstone and fine conglomerate.
The matrix appearspartially cementedby the manganeseminerals; rare
fragmentsof quartz,feldsparand volcanicrocksare preserved.

Middle CycleDeposits
The main exposures of the Middle Cycledeposits are foundin the area
betweenQuebradaMarquesato the north and Hurtado river to the south.
Severalminesof the E1 Romero, Corral Quemadoand Fragua mining dis-
tricts are locatedin that area. There, the manganese occursin well defined
layers,generallytwo, with a thicknessvarying from 0.25 m to 3 m; the
averagegradeof the handpicked ore is 45 percent. Theselayersare inter-
calatedin a grayishred, fine to medium-grained volcanicsandstone that also
containsorangeclaystonebeds and gypsumlenses(unit labeled"d" in
QuebradaMarquesaformation,Fig. 2).
The petrographic characteristics
of the red sandstonethat accompanies the
manganese are similar to thoseof the Lower Cycle deposits. Presenceof
abundantpiedmontite xvasalsonoticed. The thickness of this sequence varies
from 10 to 15 m; it is overlainby a very distinctiveunit of pale-yellowcolor,
represented by calcareous sandstone,
laminatedcalcilutites, porphyriticande-
438 L. ,'tGUIRREAND S. MEHECH

sitesandgypsum lenses.The MiddleCycledeposits


overliea sequenceof
palegreenish-gray,
porphyritic
andesires
containing
abundant
amigdules
filled
with chlorite,chalcedony,
zeolite,prehniteand glauconite.
Representative
samples of the manganese
bedsof this cycleweretaken
fromseveralminesof the E1Romero,CorralQuemado and Fraguamining
districtsandwerestudiedunderthe microscope.
El RomeroDistrict.--Samples were studiedfrom Liga de Talcuna,Alta
del Romero,San Carlosand E1 Romeromines. The mineralspresentare
braunite,pyrolusite,manganiteand psilomelane.Brauniteis predominant.
Braunitegenerallyoccursfinely disseminated in the gangue. In some
specimens from San Carlosmine,brauniteappearsfilling smallfracturesand
also(according to Ramdohr)as euhedral crystalscemented by a fine-grained
matrix of pyrolusite. At E1 Romero mine brauniteis presentas euhedral
crystalsisolatedin the gangue. In one of the samplesRamdohrestablished
the presenceof manganite asthe cementof brauniteor as xenomorphic aggre-
gates, while in other specimenthe same author found that braunite is ce-
mentedby psilomelane includingremnantsof manganitecrystals. Basedon
theseobservations,
Ramdohrsuggests that psilomelane
wasoriginateddirectly
from manganitewithoutpassingthroughthe intermediate
phaseof pyrolusite,
this last being the mostgeneraltransitionobserved.
Pyrolusiteoccursas a coarseimpregnationin the gangue,as very small
crystalsmixedwith calcitegrains,and as scatteredcompactmasses.
Manganiteis very rare and occursas inclusionsin brauniteor as veinlets
cuttingacrossbraunitecrystals.
The gangueis formedmainlyby calciteand piedmontite.
At San Carlosminethe mineralizedrockcorresponds to a very fine-grained
sandstonecementedby manganesemineralsand calcite. The fragmentsare
generallysubangularand correspondchiefly to feldspar and quartz; scarce
fragmentsof porphyriticlavas are also present.
Corral QuemadoDistrict.--Samplesfrom Toda la Vida, Loma Negra and
Macanudamineswere studiedunder the microscope.The mineralspresent
are braunite,pyrolusite,manganiteand psilomelane,the two first being pre-
dominant.
Brauniteappearsintermixedwith the gangue,and in somespecimens
it
formsa bandedtextureconsisting of alternatingbandsof brauniteand gangue
(Fig. 4c). In casesbraunitealsooccursas smallpatchesassociated to others
of pyrolusite,both mineralsbeing enclosedby manganite.
Pyrolusiteis the only mineral presentat Loma Negra mine. In some
specimens this mineral is in the form of small needle-shapedcrystalsinter-
mixedwith thegangue;a slightlybandedtextureis determined by alternation
of mineralizedbandsand gangue. In other samplespyrolusiteconstitutes
lamellaraggregates
or is finelydisseminated
in the gangue.
Manganite,when abundant,constitutes fine-grainedaggregates.
Psilomelane
is very rare and onlyoccursin a smallamountat Macanuda
mine intermixed with the gangue.
The gangueis formedby piedmontiteand calcite.
MANGANESE SEDIMENTARY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 439

Fra•7uaDistrict.--Samplesfrom Carolina, San Joaquin,Blanquita,Esme-


ralda and Dura mines were studied under the microscope. The minerals
present in the samplesstudied are braunire, manganite,pyrolusite, haus-
manite,psilomelane. Brauniteand manganiteare predominant.
Braunire appearsunder different forms: a) intermixed with manganite
and pyrolusite; b) crystalsforming compactgroups devoid of gangue; c)
smalleuhedralcrystalsdisseminated in the gangue,someof them with quad-
rangularand pentagonalsections(Fig. 4d); d) filling of poresas concentric
bandsalternatingwith calcite; e) occupyingspacesbetweenpores,and f) as
larger crystals,someof them having the edgesreplacedby pyrolusiteand
others containingneedle-shaped inclusionsof slightly oriented pyrolusite.
Manganitegenerallyoccursas filling of fractures,in part as needle-shaped
radial crystals. In some samplesit is associatedwith braunite to which it
seemsto replacepartially. Manganitealso appearssurroundinghausmanite
crystalsor forming, togetherwith braunite,part of the concentricbandsin
the fillingof pores. Alsoit appearsfinelydisseminated
in the gangue.
Pyrolusiteis rare and appearsintermixedwith braunire;as inclusionsin
manganiteand braunite and, in part, as needle-shaped crystalsincludedin
braunire; in some samplesthese crystalscorrespondto a replacementof
brauniteaccordingto two preferentialdirections.
Hausmaniteis only present in Carolina mine in the form of a coarse-
grained aggregatehaving a mosaictexture; someof the crystalshave twin
lamellae.
Psilomelaneis very scarce;in severalsamplesthe identificationof this
mineral is only tentativebecausethe crystalsare too small to be accurately
determined.
The gangueis mainly calcite,quartz, and a very finely crystallizedred
mineral (?).

Upper CycleDeposits
The deposits of this cycleare the morerestrictedin arealdistributionas
compared to thoseof the previouscycles. The onlyoutcrops knownin the
regionare presentin the slopesof ShangayMountainin E1 Romeromining
district. There,the manganese occursin a very lenticularlayer 10 to 20 cm
thick, locatednear the baseof unit "b" of QuebradaMarquesaformation
(Fig. 2). This unit overliesthe yellowsedimentary sequence "c" which
constitutes the top of the manganese-bearing beds of the Middle Cycle
deposits.
Thin manganese
layersoccupying
beddingplanesof the limestones
of the
lower half of unit "b" of Quebrada Marquesa formation could also be
attributedto the Upper Cycle deposits. Outcropsof theselimestonesare
presentin Algarrobillavalley,in the neighborhood
of Balmaceda
mine of
E1 Romero district.
In the exposures at ShangayMt., the manganese-bearing intercalated
bedsare in a sequence
of red volcanicsandstones
with similarcharacteristics
to thoseof the older cycles.
440 L. .4GUIRRE .4ND oc. MEHECH

HerbertThomas(oral communication)
foundmanganese
layersoverlying
a limestoneand chert seriesin a localityapproximately5 km east-northeast
of Fragua mine and 7 km southof Corral Quemado.Theselayersare
youngerthan thoseof the principalmanganese-bearing sequence of Corral
Quemadominingdistrictand wouldrepresentdepositsof the Upper Cycle
that constitutea lensincludedin a sequenceof red andblackjasper.
The microscopicstudy of representativesamplesfrom Shangay Mt.
indicatesthat the predominantmanganese mineral presentis braunite; man-
ganiteoccursin very smallamount. The samplesconsistmostlyof braunite
showingcolloformtexture; very seldomit occursin the form of euhedral
crystals. This mineralis generallyalteredto manganite. Manganiteoccurs
in the form of very smallneedle-shaped crystals. Pyrolusiteis very scarce
and occursas very small isolatedcrystalsdisseminated in braunite. These
manganesemineralsare partially interlnixed with the gangue.

DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENT AND PROCESSES IN THE ACCUMULATION


OF MANGANESE

The fossilfaunaconsisting
of pelecypods (Ostrea), gastropods(Nerinea),
coralsand rudistids,and the lithology of the older manganese-bearing se-
quence,the Arqueros formation, indicate that this unit was depositedin a
shallow-water marine environment. Sedimentation in this environment was
accompanied by a permanentvolcanicactivity,whichcontributedto the rapid
filling of the basin,in placesdeterlniningthe existenceof transitionalcondi-
tions of sedimentation. This is inferred from the presence of calcareous
breccia containingabundant andesiticlava fragments in unit "d" of the
Arqueros formation.
The volcanicactivity recordedby the units "a" and "c" of the Arqueros
formation was probably developedunder submarineconditionsin its begin-
ning. This volcanicactivity appearsto have producedan important man-
ganese mineralization, as can be inferred front the presenceof numerous
veins that cut acrossthe andesiticlavas of units "a" and "c" throughout the
Arquerosregion.
The uninterruptedacculnulationof lava flows producedthe filling of a
great part of the shallow water depositionalbasin, leaving isolatedtroughs
of very little depth filled with waters saturatedwith manganese. In these
local,elongatetroughsthe precipitationof the manganese mineralsthat con-
stitute the manganese-bearing beds of the Lower Cycle depositstook place.
The presenceof copperand ferruginouschert beds,generallyassociated to
the manganeselayers, also suggeststhe possibilitythat the same volcanic
cyclewould havecontributedimportantamountsof Cu, SiO2 and Fe. It is
alsopossibletitat deserticclimaticconditionscontributedto the depositional
mechanismby the existence of an oxidizingenvironment,as suggestedby the
red sedimentaryunit enclosingthe manganeselayers.
Depositionof the manganese
layersincludedin the Lower Cycledeposits
wasfollowedby a neweffusiveactivitycharacterized
by andesitic
lavas. This
vulcanismtook placejust beforethe accumulation of a great thicknessof
MANGANESE SEDIMENTARY DEPOSITS OF CHILE 441

continental clastic sedi•nents. The basal part of this continental section is


characterized
by grayish-redtuffaceoussandstones, sedimentarybreccias,
sandstonesand lutites which are interpretedto have been depositedunder
arid conditions. The mudflows,flow breccias,sedimentarybrecciasand ande-
siticlavasoverlyingthe red basalbedsproducedalmosta completeelimination
of the previouslyexistinglocaltroughs. A few isolatedlagoonsappearto
have persistedin the southernpart of the region described. In these, the
water was probablysaturatedwith manganese,originatedfrom the vulcanism
that followedthe LowerCycledeposits.This depositional
environment
pre-
vailed during the sedimentationof the manganeselayers included in the
Middle Cycledeposits. This cyclecontainsgypsumlenses,accompanying the
mineralizedbeds. Lenticular gypsumlayers also occur in the overlying
yellowsedimentary unit "c" of the (•uebradaMarquesaformation. Following
the depositionof the yellow sedimentaryunit "c," this was cut by small
channelsthat were filled by sedimentarybreccia;this breccialocallyinter-
ruptsthe lateralcontinuityof unit "c."
The manganese layerof the Upper Cycledeposits originatedat the begin-
ningof the deposition
of the red sedimentary rocksof unit "b" of the (•uebrada
Marquesaformation. Sedimentationtook place in persistinglagoonsthat
appearto havebeenlocatedin the easternmostpart of the region.

CONCLUSIONS

The detailedstudyof the stratigraphyof the manganese-bearing Arqueros


and QuebradaMarquesaformationsin the Coquimboprovinceaffordsenough
basisto state that the manganeselayers exploitedin that region originated
during three heterochronouscyclesof sedimentation. The Lower and Middle
Cycledepositsare separatedby a thick clasticsequenceand their stratigraphic
settingis completelydifferent. The manganesebedsexploitedin the mines
of the Lambert-Arquerosregion representa lower stratigraphichorizon than
those being worked at E1 Romero, Corral (•uemado and Fragua mining
districts.
The depositionin local troughscharacteristicof thesethree cyclesand the
fact that thesebasinsbecameprogressivelyseparatedand isolated,determined
the great variability in thicknessof the mineralizedbeds. In many places,
the manganese-bearing beds are absent although the stratigraphicsequence
that includesthem in other regionsis present.
This could be the result of non-depositionor partial elimination of the
mineralized beds by channel scouring. At many places there are channel
structuresfilled with sedimentarybreccia cut through a large part of the
yellow sedimentaryrocks overlying the beds of the Middle Cycle deposits
and in someplacesreachingas far as the top of them.
The manganese-bearing layers that occur in the different mining districts
of the Coquimboprovincecontainbraunite,pyrolusite,manganite,psilomelane
and hausmanite. Piedmontireis, in general, an important constituentof the
gangue. Braunite is by far the predominantmineral. Psilomelaneis more
abundantin the Lower Cycle deposits,occurringwith a colloformbotryoidal
442 L. .4GUIRRE .4ND 5'. MEHECH

texture. Hausmanite is formed only in the depositsof the Middle Cycle.


A constant association,between the minerals braunite and piedmontite, has
been observed;the latter ndneral occursonly associatedwith braunite and is
absentin all sampleswhere braunite is not present.
INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONESGEOLOGICAS,
SANTIAGO,CHILE,
Sept. 5, 1963

REFERENCES

1. Aguirre, L., and Egert, E., 1962, Las FormacionesManganesiferas de la Regi6n de Ouebrada
Marquesa, Provincia de Coquimbo: Revista del Instituto de Ingenieros de Minas de
Chile, Santiago, Chile.
2. Fritzsche, C. H., 1923, Neue Kreide fanhen aus Siidamerika: Neues Jahrbuch fiir Mineralo-
gle, p. 321-324, Stuttgart.
3. Servicio de Minas del Estado, 1961, Anuario de la Mineria de Chile, Santiago.