Origin and prospectivity of heavy mineral enriched sand deposits along the Somaliland coastal areas

M. Y. Ali, P. Hibberd, B. Stoikovich

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Abstract

Sixty-one heavy mineral enriched samples along the Somaliland coast from Eil Sheikh to Ras Khatib, a distance of about 130 km, were analyzed using X-ray Fluorescence, X-ray Diffraction and SEM-EDS techniques. This study reveals that a considerable amount of heavy minerals is present along the Somaliland coast and confirms the presence of high concentration titanium and iron bearing minerals. However, the backshore deposits in the mouths of Waaheen and Biyo Gure ephemeral rivers as well as raised paleo-beaches in the east of port city of Berbera demonstrate the highest level of titaniferous heavy minerals with most samples showing concentration greater than 50 wt %. The titanium detected in geochemical analysis occurs in the form of ilmenite, rutile, titanite and titaniferous magnetite. Also, present in minor or trace amounts, are garnet, zircon and monazite. Heavy mineral accumulations in the east and west of Berbera have different mineralogical assemblages. The east of Berbera is dominated by quartz with moderate concentration of plagioclase, K-feldspar, magnetite, hematite and titanium bearing minerals, whereas in the west of Berbera, the dominant minerals are quartz, K-feldspar and plagioclase with variable proportions of ilmenite, rutile, mica, amphibole and pyroxene. These variations in mineral assemblages suggest different composition of the catchment areas that supply sediment to these deposits. The catchment area in the east of Berbera consists mainly of Proterozoic crystalline basement of the Qabri Bahar complex, Gabbro-Synenite belt and granitic intrusions that outcrop in Hudiso, Tulo Dibijo and surrounding areas. The primary sources of heavy minerals in the west of Berbera comprise of high-grade metamorphic rocks of the Mora and Qabri Bahar complexes as well as the Miocene volcanics that outcrop in Laferug and Hagabo areas. The heavy mineral sand deposits observed along the Somaliland coast have the potential to provide commercially important heavy minerals, in particular ilmenite. It appears that prospects for development of the heavy mineral sands in the east of Berbera are better than those to the west of Berbera. In general, east of Berbera has wider beaches, better heavy mineral sands in the upper horizons and dune areas with heavier mineral sands. Furthermore, a series of raised paleo-beaches with high concentrations of heavy mineral sands are observed 1–2 km behind the shoreline. However, further investigation, including drilling and laboratory analyses, still needs to be carried out, particularly close to the entrance of Waaheen and Biyo Gure ephemeral rivers to evaluate the potential quality and scale of the deposits.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)60-75
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Volume140
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Backshore
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Heavy minerals
  • Ilmenite
  • Magnetite
  • Paleo-beach
  • Rutile
  • Sand dunes
  • Somaliland

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