Mineral deposit formation in Phanerozoic sedimentary basins of north-east Africa: the contribution of weathering
The intra- and epicontinental basins in north-east Africa (Egypt, Sudan) bear ample evidence of weathering processes repeatedly having contributed to the formation of mineral deposits throughout the Phanerozoic. The relict primary weathering mantle of Pan-African basement rocks consists of kaolinitic saprolite, laterite (in places bauxitic) and iron oxide crust. On the continent, the reaccumulation of eroded weathering-derived clay minerals (mainly kaolinite) occurred predominantly in fluvio-lacustrine environments, and floodplain and coastal plain deposits. Iron oxides, delivered from ferricretes, accumulated as oolitic ironstones in continental and marine sediments. Elements leached from weathering profiles accumulated in continental basins forming silcrete and alunite or in the marine environment contributing to the formation of attapulgite/saprolite and phosphorites. The Early Paleozoic Tawiga bauxitic laterite of northern Sudan gives a unique testimony of high latitude lateritic weathering under global greenhouse conditions. It formed in close spatial and temporal vicinity to the Late Ordovician glaciation in north Africa. The record of weathering products is essentially complete for the Late Cretaceous/Early Tertiary. From the continental sources in the south to the marine sinks in the north, an almost complete line of lateritic and laterite-derived deposits of bauxitic kaolin, kaolin, iron oxides and phosphates is well documented.