Formation of Chromitite Seams and Associated Anorthosites in Layered Intrusion by Reactive Volatile-rich Fluid Infiltration

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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, it 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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marsh, JS; Pasecznyk, MJ; Boudreau, AE

Published Date

  • February 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 62 / 2

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-2415

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3530

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/petrology/egaa109

Citation Source

  • Scopus