Sulfide-associated mineral assemblages in the Bushveld Complex, South Africa: platinum-group element enrichment by vapor refining by chloride-carbonate fluids
The petrology of base metal sulfides and associated accessory minerals in rocks away from economically significant ore zones such as the Merensky Reef of the Bushveld Complex has previously received only scant attention, yet this information is critical in the evaluation of models for the formation of Bushveld-type platinum-group element (PGE) deposits. Trace sulfide minerals, primarily pyrite, pyrrhotite, pentlandite, and chalcopyrite are generally less than 100 microns in size, and occur as disseminated interstitial individual grains, as polyphase assemblages, and less commonly as inclusions in pyroxene, plagioclase, and olivine. Pyrite after pyrrhotite is commonly associated with low temperature greenschist alteration haloes around sulfide grains. Pyrrhotite hosted by Cr- and Ti-poor magnetite (Fe
4) occurs in several samples from the Marginal to Lower Critical Zones below the platiniferous Merensky Reef. These grains occur with calcite that is in textural equilibrium with the igneous silicate minerals, occur with Cl-rich apatite, and are interpreted as resulting from high temperature sulfur loss during degassing of interstitial liquid. A quantitative model demonstrates how many of the first-order features of the Bushveld ore metal distribution could have developed by vapor refining of the crystal pile by chloride-carbonate-rich fluids during which sulfur and sulfide are continuously recycled, with sulfur moving from the interior of the crystal pile to the top during vapor degassing. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
Kanitpanyacharoen, W; Boudreau, AE
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