High-temperature carbonate minerals in the Stillwater Complex, Montana, USA
High-temperature carbonate minerals have been observed in association with sulfide minerals below the platiniferous Johns-Manville (J-M) reef of the Stillwater Complex in a stratigraphic section that has been previously shown to be characterized by unusually Cl-rich apatite. The carbonate assemblage consists of dolomite with exsolved calcite in contact with sulfide minerals: chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite in the Peridotite Zone; and pyrrhotite with pentlandite, pyrite and chalcopyrite in Gabbronorite Zone I of the Lower Banded Series. A reaction rim surrounds the carbonate-sulfide assemblages, showing an alteration of the host orthopyroxene to a more calcium-enriched, Fe-depleted pyroxene. The calcite-dolomite geothermometer yields a minimum formation temperature as high as 950 °C for the unmixed assemblages. Iron and manganese concentrations exceed the range seen in carbonatite and mantle xenolith carbonates and are distinctly different from the nearly pure end-member carbonates associated with greenschist-grade (and lower) assemblages (e.g., carbonate veins in serpentinite) that occur locally throughout the complex. The association of high-temperature carbonates with sulfides beneath the J-M reef supports the hydromagmatic theory which involves a late-stage chloride-carbonate fluid percolating upwards, dissolving PGE and sulfides and redepositing them at a higher stratigraphic level. Characterization of the processes which form strategically important metal deposits, such as the J-M reef of the Stillwater Complex and the analogous Merensky reef of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa, could potentially lead to better exploration models and, more broadly, a deeper understanding of the cooling and compositional evolution of large bodies of ultramafic and mafic magma and of carbonatites, on both a local and a regional scale. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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