The PGE-Au Mineralisation of the Skaergaard intrusion: precious metal minerals, petrography and ore genesis

Nikolay S. Rudashevsky, Troels F.D. Nielsen, Vladimir N. Rudashevsky

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Skaergaard PGE-Au Mineralisation, alias the Platinova Reef, is hosted in a series of mineralisation levels within a suite of bowl-shaped macrorhythmic layers in the upper Middle Zone of the Skaer-gaard intrusion. The intrusion is exposed 68°N in East Greenland. The occurrence defines its own type due to its exceptional structure and mineralogy. A wealth of mineralogical data is available in lab-oratory reports for individual samples and in peer-reviewed publications, but none of these account for the lateral and stratigraphic distribution of PGE and Au parageneses in the gabbros of the intru-sion. In this study, we collate and describe the mineralogical data for the first-formed PGE-rich and last-formed gold-rich mineralisation levels and integrate these with petrogenetic models. Recovery of >4000 grains of precious metal phases allow a detailed study of their distribution and compositions throughout the mineralisation, re-equilibration during cooling, inter-grain relationships and relationships to Cu-Fe sulphides and the gabbroic host rocks. The sulphides are dominated by bornite, chalcocite and minor chalcopyrite. All other sulphides, such as pentlandite, are very rare. Fif-ty-four different precious metal phases are identified in this study, and include the new IMA approved minerals skaergaardite (PdCu), nielsenite (Pd3 Pb) and naldrettite (Pd2 Sb). Precious metal phases include (1) intermetallic compounds and alloys of Cu and Pd; (2) intermetallic compounds and alloys of Au and Cu (Ag); (3) sulphides of Pd, Cu (Ag, Cd, Hg, Tl); (4) arsenides of Pd (Pt, Ni) and (5) intermetallic compounds of Pd, Cu with Sn, Pb, Te (Sb, Bi). Skaergaardite (PdCu) is the dominant PGE mineral in the lower and main PGE mineralisation level (Pd5). It is accompanied at the western margin of the intrusions by the sulphides vasilite (Pd16 S7) and vysotskite (PdS) but is rare at the eastern margin, which is dominated by plumbide zvyagintsevite (Pd3 Pb). Gold phases include a suite of intermetallic compounds and alloys from AuCu3 to native gold and are dominated by tetra-auricupride (AuCu). Gold is concentrated in the tops of individual mineralisation levels and in the uppermost precious metal–bearing mineralisation level, followed by stratiform Cu-rich mineralisation levels. Precious metal parageneses demonstrate formation and re-equilibration from liquidus to subsol-idus temperatures and control by local geochemical environments. The mineralisation is syn-mag-matic and the result of fractionation and evolution in the remaining bulk-silicate liquid and crystal mushes. Fractionation led to sulphide saturation and formation of immiscible sulphide melt drop-lets. This was followed by reaction with mush melts and re-equilibration to lower temperatures, first under the roof and subsequently after slumping to the floor in mushes of macrorhythmic layers. Droplets of sulphide melt formed between 1030–1050°C and trapped precious metals. The subsequent reaction between sulphide melt and interstitial Fe-rich immiscible melt at c. 1015°C, and redistribution to coexisting melt and fluid, led to the separation of PGE, Au and Cu and their up-and inward transport. Magmatic fluids as well as volatile-rich residual silicate melts were retained in gabbros at the margins and resulted in precious metal parageneses in equilibrium with hydrous low-temperature silicate parageneses.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherGEUS
Number of pages66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2023

Publication series

SeriesGEUS Bulletin
Volume54
ISSN2597-2162

Keywords

  • crystal mushes
  • precious metal minerals
  • Skaergaard intrusion
  • South-East Greenland
  • syn-magmatic

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources

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