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Formation of the Flatreef deposit, northern Bushveld, by hydrodynamic and hydromagmatic processes

Maier, W. D. ORCID:, Abernethy, K. E. L., Grobler, D. F. and Moorhead, G. 2021. Formation of the Flatreef deposit, northern Bushveld, by hydrodynamic and hydromagmatic processes. Mineralium Deposita 56 , pp. 11-30. 10.1007/s00126-020-00987-5

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New lithological and whole rock compositional data show that the main platinum-group element (PGE) horizons of the Flatreef succession show strong compositional similarities to the Merensky and Bastard reefs of the western Bushveld Complex (WBC), notably in terms of many immobile and incompatible minor and trace elements such as TiO2, Zr, Y, and REE. However, Al2O3, CaO, and Na2O contents are markedly lower in the Flatreef, whereas MgO contents are higher. In view of broadly similar silicate mineral compositions in the Flatreef and the WBC reefs, we suggest that the major element compositional differences between the rocks are largely due to higher modal proportions of orthopyroxene and olivine and lower proportions of plagioclase in the Flatreef. The thickness of the mineralised interval is much greater in the Flatreef than in the WBC (several 10 s of m vs ~ 1 m) and the abundance of sulfides in the Flatreef is typically somewhat higher (on average ~ 1.5% vs ~ 1%). These data, complemented by textural observations, are interpreted to reflect enhanced hydrodynamic crystal sorting accompanied by percolation of sulfide melt through incompletely solidified cumulates. Further genetic constraints are provided by metal data: The concentration of Ni (~ 3000 ppm) in the Flatreef is broadly similar to that in the Merensky Reef of the WBC, but Cu contents are markedly higher (average ~ 1500 ppm vs 700 ppm in the WBC). The concentrations of most PGE are slightly lower (Flatreef ~ 1.5–2 ppm Pt, ~ 100–150 ppb Rh; WBC MR 3.7 ppm Pt, 240 ppb Rh), but Pd has broadly similar contents (Flatreef ~ 1.2–2 ppm; WBC MR 1.54 ppm). The relatively high Cu content of the Flatreef is interpreted as a result of assimilation of Cu sulfides from the sedimentary floor rocks. The reason for the enrichment of Pd relative to Pt, especially in the basal rocks, remains unclear. It could reflect mobilisation of Pd via a fluid phase from the country rocks or the interior of the intrusion, relatively enhanced partitioning of Pd into the sulfides, or relative Pt depletion of the earliest magma pulses in response to Pt alloy fractionation triggered by contamination with reducing country rocks.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0026-4598
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 May 2020
Date of Acceptance: 5 May 2020
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 21:19

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