A chilled margin of komatiite and Mg-rich basaltic andesite in the western Bushveld Complex, South Africa

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Maier, W. D. ; Barnes, S.-J. ; Karykowski, B. T. (2016)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s00410-016-1257-5
  • Subject: QE | Geophysics | Geochemistry and Petrology

A chill sequence at the base of the Lower Zone of the western Bushveld Complex at Union Section, South Africa, contains aphanitic Mg-rich basaltic andesite and spinifex-textured komatiite. The basaltic andesite has an average composition of 15.2 % MgO, 52.8 % SiO2, 1205 ppm Cr, and 361 ppm Ni, whereas the komatiite has 18.7 % MgO, 1515 ppm Cr, and 410 ppm Ni. Both rock types have very low concentrations of immobile incompatible elements (0.14–0.72 ppm Nb, 7–31 ppm Zr, 0.34–0.69 ppm Th, 0.23–0.27 wt% TiO2), but high PGE contents (19–23 ppb Pt, 15–16 ppb Pd) and Pt/Pd ratios (Pt/Pd 1.4). Strontium and S isotopes show enriched signatures relative to most other Lower Zone rocks. The rocks could represent a ~20 % partial melt of subcontinental lithospheric mantle. This would match the PGE content of the rocks. However, this model is inconsistent with the high SiO2, Fe, and Na2O contents and, in particular, the low K2O, Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Th, LREE, Rb, and Ba contents of the rocks. Alternatively, the chills could represent a komatiitic magma derived from the asthenosphere that underwent assimilation of the quartzitic floor accompanied by crystallization of olivine and chromite. This model is consistent with the lithophile elements and the elevated Sr and S isotopic signatures of the rocks. However, in order to account for the high Pt and Pd contents of the magma, the mantle must have been twice as rich in PGE as the current estimate for PUM, possibly due to a component of incompletely equilibrated late veneer.
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