Nano- And Micrometer-Sized PGM in Ni-Cu-Fe Sulfides from an Olivine Megacryst in the Udachnaya Pipe, Yakutia, Russia

José María González-Jiménez, Irina Tretiakova, Marco Fiorentini, Vladimir Malkovets, Laure Martin, Julia Farré-De-Pablo

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on a nanoscale study of nano- and micrometer-size Os-rich mineral particles hosted in a Ni-Fe-Cu sulfide globule found in an olivine megacryst from the Udachnaya pipe (Yakutia, Russia). These platinum-group element mineral particles and their host sulfide matrices were investigated using a combination of techniques, including field emission gun electron probe microanalyzer, field emission scanning electron microscopy, and focused ion beam and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. The sulfide globule is of mantle origin, as it is hosted in primitive olivine (Fo90–93), very likely derived from the crystallization of Ni-Fe-Cu sulfide melt droplets segregated by liquid immiscibility from a basaltic melt in a volume of depleted subcontinental lithospheric mantle. Microscopic observations by means of field emission scanning electron microscopy and single-spot analysis and mapping by field emission gun electron probe microanalyzer reveal that the sulfide globule comprises a core of pyrrhotite with flame-like exsolutions (usually,10 lm thickness) of pentlandite, which is irregularly surrounded by a rim of granular pentlandite and chalcopyrite. Elemental mapping by energy dispersive spectroscopy (acquired using the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy) of the pyrrhotite (þ pentlandite) core reveals that pentlandite exsolution in pyrrhotite is still observable at the nanoscale as fringes of 100 to 500 nm thicknesses. The sulfide matrices of pyrrhotite, pentlandite, and chalcopyrite contain abundant nano- and micrometer-size platinum group element mineral particles. A careful inspection of eight of these platinum group element particles under focused ion beam and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy showed that they are crystalline erlichmanite (OsS2) with well-developed crystal faces that are distinctively oriented relative to their sulfide host matrices. We propose that the core of the Ni-Fe-Cu sulfide globule studied here was derived from a precursor monosulfide solid solution originally crystallized from a sulfide melt at .1100 8C, which later decomposed into pyrrhotite and the pentlandite flame-like exsolutions upon cooling at,600 8C. Once solidified, the solid monosulfide solid solution reacted with non-equilibrium Cu-and Ni-rich sulfide melt(s), giving rise to the granular pentlandite in equilibrium with chalcopyrite now forming the rim of the sulfide globule. Meanwhile, nano- to micron-sized crystals of erlichmanite crystallized directly from or slightly before monosulfide solid solution from the sulfide melt. Thus, Os, and to a lesser extent Ir and Ru, were physically partitioned by preferential uptake via early formation of nanoparticles at high temperature instead of low-temperature exsolution from solid Ni-Fe-Cu sulfides. The new data provided in this paper highlight the necessity of studying platinum group element mineral particles in Ni-Fe-Cu sulfides using analytical techniques that can image nanoscale textural features in order to better understand the mechanisms of platinum group element fractionation in magmatic systems. These processes may play a crucial role in controlling the background geochemical budgets for siderophile and chalcophile elements in a wide range of mantle-derived magmas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1773
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Mineralogist
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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