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ABSTRACT: Pacific Ferromanganese Crust Geology and Geochemistry

Sergei I. Andreev, Boris G. Vanstein, Lidya I. Anikeeva

Cobaltiferous ferromanganese crusts form part of a large series of oceanic ferromanganese oxide deposits. The crusts show high cobalt (commonly over 0.4%), low nickel and copper sum (0.4-0.8%), considerably high manganese (18-20%), and iron (14-18%). Less abundant elements in crusts are represented by molybdenum and vanadium; the rare-earth elements cerium, lanthenum, and yttrium; and the noble metals platinum and rhodium. Co-rich crusts form at water depths of 600 to 2500 m. Crust thicknesses range from millimeters to 15-17 cm, averaging 2-6 cm. The most favorable conditions for 4-10 cm thick crusts to occur is at water depths of 1200-2200 m. The crusts formed on basaltic, calcareous, siliceous, and breccia bedrock surfaces provided there were conditions preventing botto sedimentation at them. If the sedimentation takes place, it may be accompanied by nodules similar in composition to the crusts. The most favorable topography for extensive crust formation is considered to be subdued (up to 20°) slopes and summit platforms of conical seamounts, frequently near faults and their intersection zones. Subhorizontal guyot summits do not usually favor crust growth. Crust geochemistry is primarily defined by mineralogy and manganese hydroxides (vernadite)/iron ratio. The first associated group of compounds includes cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, vanadium, cerium, and titanium; the other is strontium, yttrium, cerium, and cadmium. The aluminosilicate phase is associated with titanium, iron, chromium, and vanadium; phosphate biogenic phase includes copper, nicke , zinc, lead, and barium. The crucial point in cobaltiferous crust formation is their growth rate on which is dependent the degree of ferromanganese matrix sorption saturation with cobalt. The optimum for cobalt-rich ferromanganese ores is the conditions facilitating long-term and continuous hydrogenic processes.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990