Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Solid Earth, 9, 1011–1033, 2018
Solid Earth, 9, 1011–1033, 2018

Research article 10 Aug 2018

Research article | 10 Aug 2018

Non-cylindrical parasitic folding and strain partitioning during the Pan-African Lufilian orogeny in the Chambishi–Nkana Basin, Central African Copperbelt

Koen Torremans1,a, Philippe Muchez1, and Manuel Sintubin1 Koen Torremans et al.
  • 1KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geodynamics and Geofluids Research Group, Celestijnenlaan 200E, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
  • apresent address: Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland

Abstract. A structural analysis has been carried out along the south-east margin of the Chambishi–Nkana Basin in the Central African Copperbelt, hosting the world-class copper and cobalt (Cu–Co) Nkana orebody. The geometrically complex structural architecture is interpreted to have been generated during a single NE–SW-oriented compressional event, clearly linked to the Pan-African Lufilian orogeny. This progressive deformation resulted primarily in asymmetric multiscale parasitic fold assemblages, characterised by non-cylindrical NW–SE-oriented periclinal folds that strongly interfere laterally, leading to fold linkage and bifurcation. The vergence and amplitude of these folds consistently reflect their position along an inclined limb of a NW-plunging megascale first-order fold. A clear relation is observed between the intensity of parasitic folding and the degree of shale content in the Copperbelt Orebody Member (COM), which hosts most of the ore. Differences in fold amplitude, wavelength and shape are explained by changes in mechanical stratigraphy caused by lateral lithofacies variation in ore-bearing horizons. In addition, strong differences in strain partitioning occur within the deforming basin, which is interpreted to be in part controlled by changes in mechanical anisotropy in the layered rock package. This work provides an essential backdrop to understand the influence of the Lufilian orogeny on metal mineralisation and (re-)mobilisation in the Copperbelt.

Short summary
A major mountain building event, called the Lufilian orogeny, deformed the rocks that host copper and cobalt ore in the world-class Central African Copperbelt. Key field evidence in this study shows that a single pulse of deformation caused a set of complexly interacting folds and faults. The specific composition and layering in the rock package has a major influence on how the rock sequence was folded.