Some Geochemical Considerations for Platinum-Group-Element Exploration in Layered Intrusion

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1995

A.E. BOUDREAU, Department of Geology, Duke University, Box 90227, Durham, North Carolina 27707-0227, United States

It has long been recognized that platinum-group-element (PGE) deposits in layered intrusions preferentially occur in intrusions that crystallized from high-Mg parent magmas. Recent studies suggest that evaluation of any given intrusion for economic PGE potential should also include assessment of the PGE, sulfur and chlorine concentrations in the cumulates and potential parent liquids. PGE: Magmas that contain relatively abundant Pt and Pd are the best candidates for forming economic deposits. Although analyses of coeval sills and dikes are the best indicators of primary magmatic PGE concentrations, analysis of the cumulates themselves is also valuable. For example, within the Stillwater complex, background PGE values in cumulates from the ultrama?c sections of the complex contain, on average, several 10s of ppb Pt and Pd. Background concentrations of this order are suggestive that the magma was not depleted in the PGE. Sulfur: Conventional petrogenetic models for the formation of PGE deposits in layered intrusions require the PGE to have been concentrated during a magmatic sul?de-saturation event. In contrast, some hydrothermal models suggest that sulfur and the PGE were mobilized from footwall cumulates by upwardmigrating, high-temperature hydrothermal ?uids. Both models suggest that signi?cant PGE deposits are likely to occur at and below the level where stratigraphic increases in whole rock sulfur concentrations occur. Chlorine: In both the Stillwater and Bushveld complexes the cumulate sequences below the major PGE-bearing zones contain anomalous Cl-rich apatite. The chlorapatite component of apatite in these rocks may exceed 40% and, in the Stillwater complex, typically exceeds 90%. It is stressed that pristine igneous mineral analysis and not whole rock data be used, as whole rock Cl concentrations may be affected by very localized (grain boundary), low temperature alteration. Intrusions that crystallized from high-Mg, high-Cl magmas appear to have the best potential to host signi?cant PGE deposits.
Mots Clés: Geochemistry, Exploration, Platinum-group-element exploration, PGE, Magma,