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Overview of the magnetic signatures of the Palaeoproterozoic Rustenburg Layered Suite, Bushveld Complex, South Africa

October 1, 2013

Aeromagnetic data clearly delineate the mafic rocks of the economically significant Bushveld Igneous Complex. This is mainly due to the abundance of magnetite in the Upper Zone of the Rustenburg Layered Suite of the Bushveld, but strongly remanently magnetised rocks in the Main Zone also contribute significantly in places. In addition to delineating the extent of the magnetic rocks in the complex, the magnetic anomalies also provide information about the dip and depth of these units. The presence of varying degrees of remanent magnetisation in most of the magnetic lithologies of the Rustenburg Layered Suite complicates the interpretation of the data. The combination of available regional and high resolution airborne magnetic data with published palaeomagnetic data reveals characteristic magnetic signatures associated with the different magnetic lithologies in the Rustenburg Layered Suite. As expected, the ferrogabbros of the Upper Zone cause the highest amplitude magnetic anomalies, but in places subtle features within the Main Zone can also be detected. A marker with strong remanent magnetisation located in the Main Zone close to the contact with the Upper Zone is responsible for very high amplitude negative anomalies in the southern parts of both the eastern and western lobes of the Bushveld Complex. Prominent anomalies are not necessarily related to a specific lithology, but can result from the interaction between anomalies caused by differently magnetised bodies.

The magnetic data provided substantial information at different levels of detail, ranging from contacts between zones, and layering within zones, to magnetite pipes dykes and faults that can have an impact on mine planning. Finally, simple modelling of the magnetic data supports the concept of continuous mafic rocks between the western and eastern lobes.

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