A Model for PGE Enrichment Due to the Splitting of Freezing Magma Chambers by Suspended Crystal Loads

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1997

The mechanism by which stratiform ore deposits of PGE (platinum-group elements) are laid down in ultramafic igneous complexes is not completely clear. Early studies by the author and coworkers on numerical analyses of the convective cooling of low-Rayleigh-number magma chambers examined the effect of suspended crystal load on fluid density, and raised the possibility that the growth of the suspended crystal load during cooling could split a magma chamber into several convecting layers. The lower layers would have a higher content of refractory phases than the upper layers, which would consist of more evolved melt. This paper considers numerical modelling, as well as theoretical and experimental work in other fields dealing with suspended loads in fluids. The calculations, which are based on the physics of convecting magmas, yield quantitative relationships consistent with the observation that economically interesting stratiform PGE deposits are restricted to large magma bodies, and also yield estimation of the depth in a magma chamber at which certain grades of mineralization may occur.
Mots Clés: PGE, Ultramafic igneous complexes, Magma chambers, Suspended