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A Review of Geological Research on the Iron Ores of the Hamersley Iron Province


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Author Morris RC


Intensive exploration for iron ore in the banded iron-formations (BIF) of the Pilbara region of Western Australia began in the early sixties and almost immediately established the Hamersley area as a major iron province. The early genetic models for the BIF-hosted ores were based mainly on macroscopic examinations of ores from the “hardcap” zone, and generally accepted a direct relationship with weathering effects on a Mesozoic to Tertiary land surface. Brandt (1964) was the first to suggest a difference in age between the high-grade hematite ores and the more common hematite-goethite types. He initially accepted a supergene origin for both, but later opted for a hydrothermal origin for the hematite ores. Apart from MacLeod (1966), the published views of the next decade reflect a largely parochial interpretation of individual ore bodies, centred mainly on supergene models but with some support for hydrothermal concepts. Except for Ayres (1971), none of the models were backed by detailed mineragraphic data. In 1976, an AMIRA-sponsored CSIRO group began a Province-wide investigation of the wide variety of ore types and BIF, with emphasis on geochemical and textural studies. The resulting conceptual model for a world-wide unified supergene and supergene-metamorphic hypothesis is generally accepted in the Hamersleys.