skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on November 1, 2023

Title: Distributions of Platinum Group Elements and Re-Os Isotope Systematics in Chromite from the Coobina Chromitite Deposit in Western Australia: Implications for Chromite as a Sulfide Mineralization Indicator
ABSTRACT The abundance of Ru in chromite has been suggested as an indicator of sulfide liquid saturation in komatiites. The komatiite magma-derived Archean Coobina intrusion is known to be barren in terms of sulfide mineralization. Therefore, the Coobina intrusion can serve as a useful case study to test the applicability of Ru abundance in chromite as a potential indicator for sulfide mineralization, as well as for better understanding the PGE-chromite association in general. The Coobina intrusion is a highly deformed layered intrusion interpreted to be a flared dike. It contains multiple massive chromitite seams that have been recently mined for metallurgical-grade chromite. In this study, 18 samples from chromitite seams throughout this intrusion are investigated for their whole-rock platinum group element (PGE) contents, which are compared to their chromite mineral chemistry (including PGE content), the platinum group mineral (PGM) mineralogy, and Re-Os isotope systematics. Each sample has a similar chromite major and minor element chemistry, but a unique trace element signature, even within the same seam. In general, there are higher concentrations of Ru (>300 ppb) within chromite in the southeast (toward the feeder dike) and lower concentrations (<50 ppb Ru) in the northwest. At a sample scale, Ru in more » the whole rock and Ru in solid solution in the chromite are inversely correlated, while Ir shows a positive correlation between the whole rock and chromite mineral chemistry, indicating differing partitioning behaviors within the iridium-group PGE (IPGE = Os, Ir, Ru). The inverse correlation between Ru in solid solution within chromite and Ru in whole-rock chromitite suggests that, for seams with high Ru in whole rock, Ru is occurring within separate PGM phases. This is supported by the observation that the samples with high whole-rock Ru also have a high number of visible metal alloy and/or PGM inclusions. Although these inclusions are not necessarily Ru-rich phases, their presence suggests that there is a preference for these samples to form nuggets, which may restrict Ru partitioning into the chromite crystal structure. We suggest that the low Ru values in the Coobina chromite are a result of transient sulfide saturation. The Re-Os isotopic composition of the Coobina chromitite is chondritic [γ187Os(3.189 Ga) = −0.63 ± 0.21] and is consistent with derivation of the Coobina parental magma from the convecting upper mantle source, providing evidence for the mantle origin of the Coobina PGE inventory. If using chromite as a detrital indicator mineral for magmatic sulfide exploration, it must be kept in mind that transient sulfide saturation within chromitite seams may give a false positive signature. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Canadian Mineralogist
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1045 to 1069
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Drilling related to development of the platinum-group element deposit of the J-M Reef of the Stillwater Complex returned samples of a rare chromitite seam between anorthosite and norite in a discordant anorthositic body. Plagioclase core An concentrations are marginally higher and modestly reversely zoned on the norite side (average Ancore = 83·8; average Ancore – Anrim = –1·1) as compared with the anorthosite side (average Ancore 82·5; average Ancore – Anrim = +1·0). The anorthosites are also characterized by a slightly smaller average plagioclase grain size than plagioclase in the norite (1·41 mm and 1·54 mm, respectively). The chromite can contain single and polyphase inclusions of orthopyroxene, plagioclase, amphibole, biotite and Cl-rich apatite. These and other compositional and textural features, as well as inference from other discordant anorthositic bodies in the Banded series, are all consistent with a chromatographic model of chromite precipitation at a reaction front as a norite protolith reacts with a Cl-rich aqueous fluid saturated in plagioclase alone. Chromitite seam formation is modeled using an infiltration metasomatic model, in which a fluid becomes progressively undersaturated in pyroxene as it rises into the hotter part of the crystal pile. As this pyroxene-undersaturated fluid moves through a noritic protolith, itmore »dissolves the Cr-bearing orthopyroxene to produce an anorthosite. Chromite precipitates at the reaction front between the anorthosite and the norite owing to liberation of Mg and Cr from pyroxene. Continuous redissolution and reprecipitation of chromite occurs as the pyroxene dissolution front moves in the direction of fluid flow, collecting the Cr lost from the anorthosite. Owing to Cr dissolved mainly as a neutral divalent cation complex, CrCl(OH)0, in the solution, but incorporated as a trivalent cation in chromite, the required redox reaction can involve concurrent precipitation of sulfide with chromite. This mechanism differs from some recent models in that the anorthosites are themselves replacement bodies and are not original precipitates from a magma nor formed by loss of mafic material by partial melting. The results show the need for experimental mineral solubility data at T and P conditions appropriate to upper crustal mafic–ultramafic intrusions.« less
  2. Abstract The Oligocene Latir magmatic center in northern New Mexico is an exceptionally well-exposed volcanoplutonic complex that hosts a variety of magmatic-hydrothermal deposits, ranging from relatively deep, F-rich porphyry Mo mineralization to shallower epithermal deposits. We present new whole-rock chemical and isotopic data for plutonic rocks from the Latir magmatic center, including extensive sampling of drill core samples of intrusive rocks from the Questa porphyry Mo deposit. These data document temporal chemical trends of porphyry-related mineralization that occurred after caldera-forming magmatism and during postcaldera batholith assembly. Silicic magmas were generated multiple times throughout the history of the Latir magmatic center, but few are associated with the formation of a mineral deposit. Whole-rock trace element ratios and Sr, Nd, and Pb isotope compositions vary throughout the protracted history of silicic magmatism. The caldera-forming ignimbrite and early phase of postcaldera intrusions are unmineralized, more enriched in high field strength elements, and generally contain less radiogenic Sr and Pb and more radiogenic Nd than later intrusions. The Questa porphyry Mo deposit formed immediately after the most isotopically primitive phase of the batholith was assembled, ruling out simple reworking of juvenile mantle-derived crust as the source for mineralizing magmas. Rhyolite dikes associated with polymetallicmore »sulfide deposits intruded ~800 k.y. after Mo mineralization, and Nd isotope data indicate that these dikes are associated with different batches of magma and are unrelated to the Mo-mineralizing intrusions at the Questa mine. Together, these data indicate that the source of magmas changed significantly throughout the 10-m.y. history of the magmatic center. We assess multiple genetic models for porphyry-related magmatism against this data set, favoring models with discrete periods of magma genesis from a deep hybridized zone in the lower crust giving rise to the punctuated periods of mineralization. These observations suggest that the formation of mineral deposits within a central magmatic locus is likely the result of the piecemeal assembly of individual hydrothermal-magmatic systems, and that distal and younger polymetallic mineralization commonly observed near known porphyry deposits represents decoupled processes.« less
  3. Abstract Detrital chromites are commonly reported within Archean metasedimentary rocks, but have thus far garnered little attention for use in provenance studies. Systematic variations of Cr–Fe spinel mineral chemistry with changing tectonic setting have resulted in the extensive use of chromite as a petrogenetic indicator, and so detrital chromites represent good candidates to investigate the petrogenesis of eroded Archean mafic and ultramafic crust. Here, we report the compositions of detrital chromites within fuchsitic (Cr-muscovite rich) metasedimentary rocks from the Jack Hills, situated within the Narryer Terrane, Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, which are geologically renowned for hosting Hadean (>4000 Ma) zircons. We highlight signatures of metamorphism, including highly elevated ZnO and MnO, coupled with lowered Mg# in comparison with magmatic chromites, development of pitted domains, and replacement of primary inclusions by phases that are part of the metamorphic assemblages within host metasedimentary rocks. Oxygen isotope compositions of detrital chromites record variable exchange with host metasedimentary rocks. The variability of metamorphic signatures between chromites sampled only meters apart further indicates that modification occurred in situ by interaction of detrital chromites with metamorphic fluids and secondary mineral assemblages. Alteration probably occurred during upper greenschist to lower amphibolite facies metamorphism and deformation of host metasedimentarymore »rocks at ∼2650 Ma. Regardless of metamorphic signatures, sampling location or grain shape, chromite cores yield a consistent range in Cr#. Although other key petrogenetic indices, such as Fe2O3 and TiO2 contents, are complicated in Jack Hills chromites by mineral non-stoichiometry and secondary mobility within metasedimentary rocks, we demonstrate that the Cr# of chromite yields significant insights into their provenance. Importantly, moderate Cr# (typically 55–70) precludes a komatiitic origin for the bulk of chromites, reflecting a dearth of komatiites and intrusive equivalents within the erosional catchment of the Jack Hills metasedimentary units. We suggest that the Cr# of Jack Hills chromite fits well with chromites derived from layered intrusions, and that a single layered intrusion may account for the observed chemical compositions of Jack Hills detrital chromites. Where detailed characterization of key metamorphic signatures is undertaken, detrital chromites preserved within Archean metasedimentary rocks may therefore yield valuable information on the petrogenesis and geodynamic setting of poorly preserved mafic and ultramafic crust.« less
  4. Abstract

    Continental flood basalts are more prone to compositional modification from passage through thicker and (or) more felsic crust in comparison to their oceanic counterparts. The Steens Basalt in southeast Oregon (~17 Ma) is among the oldest and most mafic members of the Columbia River Basalt Group and provides a record of the early stages of flood basalt volcanism. We evaluate the balance of mantle sources in time during the onset of Columbia River Basalt Group magmatism and assess the effect of crustal passage using stratigraphically controlled Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf, Os, and O isotopic compositions, as well as whole rock major and trace element data.

    Mixing models indicate that depleted and enriched mantle sources identified by previous workers contribute in varying proportions during the life of the magmatic system, with the greatest contribution by depleted mantle when eruption rate and presumed intrusion rate increase. During waxing, enrichment of δ18O in some flows signals cryptic deep fractionation of abundant clinopyroxene followed by shallow fractionation of olivine ± clinopyroxene ± plagioclase. Os concentrations are among the highest worldwide at a given MgO (0.29–0.86 ppb at 6.0 to 10.9 wt.%). We argue that high Os results from scavenging of sulfides by recharging magmas passing through earlier crystallized magmas. Elevated87Sr/86Srmore »in the latest stage supports modest assimilation of partial melts from mafic accreted terranes, facilitated by thermal priming of crust by persistent magmatism. This work provides a more detailed schematic view of the Steens Basalt magmatic system, from mantle origin through crustal staging.

    « less
  5. This paper presents the first detailed geologic map of in situ lower ocean crust; the product of six surveys of Atlantis Bank on the SW Indian Ridge. This combined with major and trace element compositions of primary magmatic phases in 99 seafloor gabbros shows there are both significant vertical and ridge-parallel variations in crustal composition and thickness, but a continuity of the basic stratigraphy parallel to spreading. This stratigraphy is not that of magmatic sedimentation in a large crustal magma chamber. Instead, it is the product of dynamic accretion where the lower crust formed by episodic intrusion, large-scale upward migration of interstitial melt due to crystal mush compaction, and continuous tectonic extension accompanied by hyper- and sub-solidus, crystal-plastic deformation. Five crossings of the gabbro-peridotite contact along the transform wall show that massive mantle peridotite is intruded by cumulate residues of moderately to highly evolved magmas, few of which could be even close to equilibrium with a primary mantle magma. This contact then does not represent the crust-mantle boundary as envisaged in the ophiolite analog for ocean crust. The residues of the magmas parental to the shallow crust must also lie beneath the center of the complex. This, and the nearlymore »complete absence of dunites in peridotites from the transform wall, shows that melt transport through the shallow lithosphere was largely restricted to the central region of the paleo-ridge segment. There is almost no evidence for a melt lens or high-level storage of primitive melt in the upper 1500 m of Atlantis Bank. Thus, the composition of associated mid-ocean ridge basalt appears largely controlled by fractional crystallization of primitive cumulates at depth, near or at the base of the crust, modified somewhat by melt-rock reaction during transport through the overlying cumulate pile to the seafloor. Inliers of the dike-gabbro transition show that the uppermost gabbros crystallized at depth and were then emplaced upward, as they cooled, into the zone of diking. ODP and IODP drilling along the center of the gabbro massif also found few primitive gabbros that could have been in equilibrium with the original overlying lavas. Evidence of large-scale upward, permeable transport of interstitial melt through the gabbros is ubiquitous. Thus, post-cumulus processes, including extensive reaction, dissolution, and re-precipitation within the cumulate pile have obscured nearly all evidence of earlier primitive origins. We suggest that many of the gabbros may have started as primitive cumulates but were hybridized and transformed by later, migrating melts to evolved compositions, even as they ascended to higher levels, while new primitive cumulates were emplaced near the base of the crust. Mass balance for a likely parental melt intruded from the mantle to form the crust, however, requires that such primitive cumulates must exist at depth beneath Atlantis Bank at the center of the magmatic complex. The Atlantis Bank Gabbro Massif accreted by direct magma intrusion into the lower crust, followed by upward diapiric flow, first as a crystal mush, then by solid-state, crystal-plastic deformation, and finally by detachment faulting to the sea floor. The strongly asymmetric spreading to the south, parallel to the transform, was due to fault capture, with the bounding faults on the northern rift valley wall cut off by the detachment fault, which extended across the zone of intrusion causing rapid migration of the plate boundary to the north.« less