3-dimensional distribution of ore minerals from the Au-U Witwatersrand Supergroup using spectral X-ray computed micro tomography

Jonathan Sittner, JoseR.A Godinho, Axel Renno, Veerle Cnudde, Margarita Merkulova, Bradley Guy, Marijn Boone, Thomas De Schryver, Denis Van Loo, Antti Roine, Jussi Liipo

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


The Witwatersrand Supergroup in South Africa is not only the best-preserved sequence of Archean sedimentary rocks but also hosts the largest gold deposit on earth, yet discovered. The gold is situated in quartz-pebble conglomerates and is generally associated with a wide variety of minerals, including pyrite (FeS2), uraninite (UO2), pyrobitumen, base metal sulfides and phyllosilicates. Despite extensive research over the past 100 years, the origin of the gold is still debated with two models receiving most of the attention: the modified paleoplacer model and the hydrothermal models. The modified paleoplacer model assumes that detrital gold was transported into the host rock by fluvial processes, followed by a short-range mobilization (micrometer- to meter scale) by hydrothermal fluids that infiltrated the host rock. In the hydrothermal model, gold was introduced into the host rock by postdepositional hydrothermal fluids from an external source.To find new evidence for the origin of gold, we present new high-resolution 3-dimensional (3D) data based on the combination of X-ray computed micro tomography (micro-CT) and spectral X-ray computed micro tomography (Sp-CT). We combine both imaging techniques as micro-CT is an excellent tool for high resolution structural characterization and Sp-CT has the power to chemically identify a selection of minerals relevant in this study. Sp-CT is based on the analysis of X-ray absorption spectra, in particular specific K-edges, which assists in identification of chemical elements in a sample. Since most of the previous research of the Witwatersrand gold focus on 2-dimensional methods, the outcomes of this study will help to understand the 3D spatial and size distribution of the gold and provide morphological information about individual particles.This research has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). This body of the European Union receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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