In-situ crystallization and continuous modification of chromian spinel in the 'sulfide-poor platinum-group metal ores' of the Norilsk-1 intrusion (Northern Siberia, Russia)
Chayka, IF and Zhitova, LM and Antsiferova, TN and Abersteiner, A and Shevko, AY and Izokh, AE and Tolstykh, ND and Gora, MP and Chubarov, VM and Kamenetsky, VS, In-situ crystallization and continuous modification of chromian spinel in the 'sulfide-poor platinum-group metal ores' of the Norilsk-1 intrusion (Northern Siberia, Russia), Minerals, 10, (6) Article 498. ISSN 2075-163X (2020) [Refereed Article]
Layers rich in chromian spinel (Cr-spinel) occur in numerous differentiated and layered intrusions. These layers are often characterized by elevated and even economic concentrations of platinum-group-elements (PGEs), but only scarce sulfide mineralization. One particular type of such lithology occurs in the roof parts of the Norilsk-type differentiated intrusions (Russia) and is referred to as the "sulfide-poor PGE ores". We investigated rocks containing variable enrichments in Cr-spinel, sulfides, and platinum-group minerals (PGMs) from two sections of the upper zone of the Norilsk-1 intrusion, with a focus on Cr-spinel. The rocks are dominated by two lithological types: (1) leucogabbro/troctolitic and (2) olivine-gabbro. Fine-grained (5–100 μm) disperse disseminations with varying modal abundances of Cr-spinel are characteristic for the rocks studied. Those abundances range from scarce mineralization through to very dense (up to 30 vol. % Cr-spinel) cloud-like accumulations. However, compact-grained accumulations and cumulate-like textures, which are typical for chromitites of layered intrusions, are not characteristic for the studied rocks. Instead, the disseminations exhibit chain- and trail-like alignments of Cr-spinel grains, which cross the boundaries between enclosing silicates, and sub-circular arrangements. The study revealed millimeter-scaled patchy distribution of Cr-spinel compositions within a given dissemination with Cr-spinel chemistry being strongly correlated with a kind of the enclosing silicate. (1) In unaltered rocks, plagioclase hosts more magnesian Cr-spinel (Mg# 30-60), while Cr-spinel in mafic minerals is less magnesian (Mg# 18-35). (2) In altered rocks, more magnesian Cr-spinel is hosted by less altered silicates, while strongly altered silicates mainly host less magnesian Cr-spinel. Systematics of trivalent cations exhibits divergent trends, even on a scale of a thin section, and depends on a kind of hosting lithology. Leucogabbro/troctolite lithologies contain Cr-spinel with anomalously low Fe3+ and extremely high Ti contents, whereas Cr-spinel from olivine-gabbro lithologies have moderate Fe3+ and moderately-high Ti contents. It is envisaged that crystallization of Cr-spinel and their host rocks occurred from viscous mingled magmas, which had different compositions and redox state. Subsequent processes involved (1) high-temperature re-equilibration of Cr-spinel with enclosing silicates and (2) post-magmatic alteration and partial recrystallization of Cr-spinel. During these processes, Cr-spinel was losing Mg and Al and gaining Fe and Ti. These chemical trends are generally coincident with those established for other intrusions worldwide, but the upper zone of the Norilsk-1 intrusion seems to possess an exceptional variety of Cr-spinel compositions, not recorded elsewhere.