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Not all Neoproterozoic iron formations are glaciogenic: Sturtian-aged non-Rapitan exhalative iron formations from the Arabian–Nubian Shield
Abd El-Rahman, Y.; Gutzmer, J.; Li, X.-H.; Seifert, T.; Li, C.-F.; Ling, X.-X.; Li, J.;
Neoproterozoic iron formations are exposed in the Wadi Hamama area (Egypt) in the northwestern part of the Arabian–Nubian Shield. Mafic and felsic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of an intra-oceanic island-arc setting host multiple, thin iron-formation units. Major element compositions of the iron formation confirm a low detrital input, whereas the rare-earth elements and Y data suggest deposition related to an influx of low-temperature hydrothermal fluids. Unlike most Neoproterozoic banded iron formations, but similar to other iron-formation occurrences from the Arabian–Nubian Shield, the Nd isotopic compositions of the Wadi Hamama iron formations are predominantly mantle-like. SIMS U–Pb zircon ages of the host volcaniclastic units indicate that the age of iron-formation deposition is ca. 695 Ma, which is within the Sturtian epoch that is presumed to be a glacial event of global extent. Nevertheless, there is no robust evidence of any influence of Sturtian glaciation in the Arabian–Nubian Shield. Our results rather suggest that the iron formations in the area may have formed as low-temperature exhalites on the floor of an island-arc basin. The iron formations were deposited during periods of volcanic quiescence, with metals having been derived during low-temperature pervasive hydrothermal alteration of volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks exposed at the seafloor–seawater interface. Precipitation took place due to mixing of metal-bearing hydrothermal fluids and cold, oxygenated seawater. There is no need to invoke possible effects of global glaciation to explain the origin of the Sturtian-aged iron formations in the shield. Our study thus suggests that not all Neoproterozoic iron formations are necessarily linked to glacial events as the Hamama deposit represents a non-Rapitan exhalative iron formation.
Keywords: Cryogenian, Exhalite, Hydrothermal, Iron formations, Island arc, Sturtian glaciation

Publ.-Id: 29547 - Permalink