Bulk liquid for the Skaergaard intrusion and its PGE-Au mineralization: Composition, correlation, liquid line of descent, and timing of sulphide saturation and silicate–silicate immiscibility

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Abstract

Preferred and modelled bulk composition of the Skaergaard intrusion are compared to coeval basaltic compositions in East Greenland and found to relate to the second evolved cycle of Geikie Plateau Formation lavas and coeval Skaergaard-like dikes in major and trace element (Mg# ~45, Ce/Nb ~2·5, (Dy/Yb)N ~1·35), and precious metal composition (Pd/Pt ~3, Au/Pt ~2) as well as in age (~56 Ma). Successful comparisons of precious metal compositions only occur with Skaergaard models based on mass balance. The bulk liquid of the intrusion evolved along the liquid line of descent to immiscibility between Si- and Fe-rich silicate liquids after ~90% of crystallization (F ¼ ~0·10) in agreement with experimental constraints. Immiscibility led to accumulation and fractionation of the Fe-rich silicate melt in the mushy floor of the intrusion and continued accumulation of granophyre component in the remaining bulk liquid. The composition of plagioclase in the precious metal mineralized gabbro and modelling of Pd/Pt and Au/Pt in first formed droplets of sulphide melt suggest that sulphide saturation was reached in interstitial melts in crystal mushes in the floor and roof and in bulk liquid with a composition equivalent to that of the bulk liquid at lower UZa times and after crystallization of 82–85% of the bulk liquid (F ¼ 0·19–0·16). Prior to sulphide saturation in UZa type melt, the precious metals ratios of the bulk liquid were controlled by the loss of Pt relative to Pd and Au in agreement with the low empirical and experimental solubility of Pt of ~9ppb compared to a much higher value for Pd and Au. The relative timing between sulphide saturation (F ¼ ~0·18) and immiscibility between silicate melts (F ¼ ~0·10) and modelled precious metal ratios underpin the proposed multi-stage model for the mineralization, advocating initial accumulation in the mushy floor of the magma chamber controlled by sulphide saturation in mush melts rather than bulk melt, followed by redistribution of precious metals in a macro-rhythmic succession of gabbroic layers of the upward migrating crystallization zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1853-1880
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Petrology
Volume60
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Bulk liquid
  • Fe-rich immiscible melt
  • Liquid line of descent
  • Precious metal mineralization
  • Skaergaard intrusion
  • Solubility of Pt

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources

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