Desulphurisation, chromite alteration, and bulk rock PGE redistribution in massive chromitite due to hydrothermal overprint of the Panton Intrusion, east Kimberley, Western Australia

Andreas Beinlich, Adrian von Heydebrand, Reiner Klemd, Laure Martin, John Hicks

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Abstract

The Central and Western Zones of the Halls Creek Orogen (HCO) of the East Kimberley region of Western Australia host various Paleoproterozoic layered mafic–ultramafic intrusions. The 1856 ± 2 Ma layered mafic–ultramafic Panton Intrusion of the Central Zone contains a reef-type platinum-group element (PGE) mineralisation associated with metamorphosed chromitite horizons. Here we investigate the compositional variation of chromite within the A chromitite layer, or Main Chromitite Layer (MCL), base metal sulphides (BMS), and the associated PGE distribution. Electron-microprobe analysis (EMPA) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) data reveal complex chemical zoning of the chromite reflecting post-magmatic sub-solidus re-equilibration and fluid–rock interaction during metamorphism of the host rocks. The sulphur isotopic composition of the BMS (δ34S: −1.67 to 2.89‰) suggests negligible contamination of the parental melt by crustal sulphur and thus favours BMS formation due to fractional crystallisation. Furthermore, pentlandite compositions indicate the highest ƒS2 in the centre of the MCL, which coincides with a considerably heavier sulphur isotope composition compared to pentlandite in the surrounding ultramafic host rock. Alteration of the BMS during amphibolite facies hydration of the Panton Intrusion resulted in the formation of secondary bornite and digenite from the chalcopyrite as well as desulphurisation of pyrrhotite and pentlandite to secondary magnetite. The bulk rock PGE concentrations are controlled by the distribution of platinum-group minerals (PGM) due to the low PGE concentrations in BMS. PGM are present as inclusions in chromite, suggesting that they formed under sulphur-undersaturated conditions. Additional PGM are present within the interstitial serpentine-chlorite matrix suggesting that they precipitated during fluid-rock interaction and hydration of the silicate matrix. Likely sources for the remobilised PGE include PGM inclusions in altered rim zones of magmatic chromite and PGE released due to desulphurisation of BMS despite their low PGE concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103288
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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