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Journal:   JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY   summer 2019 , Volume 11 , Number 2 ; Page(s) 285 To 303.

Application Of Geological Methods For Prospecting Of Podiform Chromite Deposits In The Khoy Ophiolite Zone, Northwestern Iran

Author(s):  Masoudi Jaber, Imamalipour Ali*
* Mining department, Faculty of Engineering, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran
Introduction Podiform chromite deposits are small magmatic chromite bodies formed in the lower section of an ophiolite complex. Podiform chromite mines have produced 57. 4 percent of the world’ s total chromite production. Most ore bodies are irregularly dispersed and relatively small, between 0. 0004 and 1 Mt, averaging 0. 011 Mt (United States Geological Survey, 2012), and reserves greater than 1Mt are most uncommon (Evans, 1998). The Khoy ophiolite covers an extensive area in the northwest of Iran along the Iran-Turkey border. This ophiolite zone comprises one of the most promising areas for prospecting of chromite deposits as a result of extensive outcrops of ultramafic rocks. The Kochuk area is located in the western domain of the Khoy ophiolite (Fig. 1). Some geological and geochemical investigations have been carried out for recognition of chromite deposits in this area by the authors during the last 15 years. The geological criteria of prospecting for chromite deposits from the Khoy ophiolite are discussed in this study. Materials and methods In this research, geological methods were used to identify chromite deposits in the Khoy ophiolite. Geological surveys at scale of 1: 20000 were implemented in an area of about 70 km2. Lithogeochemical sampling (eighty five samples), petrography (five samples), ore microscopy (eighteen samples) and sampling for determination of specific gravity of ore (eleven samples) were performed in these study. Testing of bedrock mineralization was performed in a relatively straightforward manner by sampling of outcrops in areas where chromite orebodies cropped out or were underlain below a thin soil cover. In contrast, chromite mineralization prospecting in locations with thick cover were carried out by pitting and trenching. Chemical analysis of the samples was carried out by the XRF method in the Kansaran Binaloud laboratory. Results In this study, geological mapping allows discrimination of ophiolite lithologies (ultramafic rocks, chromitite, basaltic pillow lava, gabbro-diorite, ophiolite mé lange, listwaenite and other associated rocks). Ultramafic rocks are important in prospecting for chromite mineralization. Geological prospecting led to the identification of a chromite ore field with a remarkable potential since more than 20 chromite orebodies were recognized. Five mineralized zones called A, B, C, D, E and 13 chromite indices were recognized in the Kochuk chromite field. The A zone is located almost in the central part of the study area. Four ore bodies have been recognized in this zone. The A1 orebody extended by 68 meters in length and 6-9 m in thickness. This subzone is characterized by a lenticular shape with an east-west-trending strike (N115S) and a 60o dipping toward THE south. The B zone is located at ~2. 9 km west of the A zone. The B1 orebody consists of the largest known chromite orebody in this area which comprises N120S-trending and 50 NW dipping lenticular geometry extended by 118 meters in length. The thickness of the B1 orebody varies between 6 and 12 meters averaging around seven meters. There are three chromite orebodies recognized as C1, C2, and C3 subzones in the C zone. The C1 orebody is composed of 74 meter-long lens with variable thickness between 3. 5 and 9 meters. It has a N40E-trending strike, which dips 45-50 degrees to the west. In the D zone, three small chromite orebodies have been identified. The D1 orebody consists of a 20 meter-long lens ranging from 1 to 5 (avg. 3. 5) meters in thickness. This orebody is oriented by a N160S in strike and a 50 NE in dip. The chromitite occurrences have lenticular, tubular and vein-like shapes host by hurzburgite. Rocks of the upper mantle-lower crust transition zone and probably the associated chromite deposits have not been recognized yet in this area (Imamalipour, 2011). The typical ore textures consist of disseminated, nodular, massive, banded and cataclastic. Discussion Exploration of podiform chromite deposits has been a challenge due to their unpredictable occurrence, the small size of most orebodies and the intensive tectonic dislocations (United States Geological Survey, 2012). Moreover, the absence of primary geochemical halos and associated alteration are matters that have led to difficulties in prospecting for podiform chromites. Chromite as an accessory mineral is associated with harzburgite host rocks. This mineral is released during the weathering process and is accumulated within the stream sediment heavy minerals. Therefore, application of the stream sediment geochemistry method may not necessarily result in useful information for determining the location of chromite outcrops. In this study, geological methods were used for podiform chromites prospecting which culminated valuable results. The Kochuk chromite-bearing area was recognized as a chromite ore field in the western city of Khoy. The most important geological criteria of prospecting for chromite deposits from the Khoy ophiolite are: 1) chromite bodies are surrounded by dunite envelopes with variable thickness; 2) the recognized chromite-rich zones are mainly located near gabbroic intrusions; 3) most chromite lenses are oriented along an east– west trend; 4) the existence of chromite fragments on stream beds can be considered to be a suitable sign to define the entry of these anomalous rocks to the stream sediment; 5) morphologically, chromite outcrops often occur protruding from the host rock because of their higher resistance to erosion. This can facilitate the recognition of their outcrops; 6) chromite bearing zones usually do not have or exhibit thin vegetation cover despite the high rate of annual rainfall; 7) outcrops of disseminated ores can indicate the presence of high grade chromite ore in the sub surface parts; 8) the main oxide contents of chromite ores vary from an individual ore body to another one.
Keyword(s): Podiform chromite,geological prospecting,Khoy ophiolite,Iran
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APA: Copy

Masoudi, J., & IMAMALIPOUR, A. (2019). Application of geological methods for prospecting of podiform chromite deposits in the Khoy ophiolite zone, Northwestern Iran. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY, 11(2 ), 285-303.

Vancouver: Copy

Masoudi Jaber, IMAMALIPOUR ALI. Application of geological methods for prospecting of podiform chromite deposits in the Khoy ophiolite zone, Northwestern Iran. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY. 2019 [cited 2022January21];11(2 ):285-303. Available from:

IEEE: Copy

Masoudi, J., IMAMALIPOUR, A., 2019. Application of geological methods for prospecting of podiform chromite deposits in the Khoy ophiolite zone, Northwestern Iran. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY, [online] 11(2 ), pp.285-303. Available:

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