We have analysed 18 samples of komatiite from five consecutive lava flows of the Komati Formation at Spinifex Creek, Barbeton Mountain Land. Our samples include massive komatiite, various types of spinifex-textured komatiite, and flow-top breccias. The rocks have low platinum-group element (PGE) contents and Pd/Ir ratios relative to komatiites from elsewhere, at 0.45-2 ppb Os, 1-1.4 ppb Ir, <1-5 ppb Ru, 0.33-0.79 ppb Rh, 1.7-6 ppb Pt, 1.6-6.1 ppb Pd, and Pd/Ir 3.3. Pt/Pd ratios are c. 1.1. Platinum-group elements are depleted relative to Cu (Cu/Pd = 15300). They display a tendency to increase in the less magnesian samples, suggesting that the magmas were S-undersaturated upon eruption and that all PGE were incompatible with respect to crystallizing olivine. Komatiites from the Westonaria Formation of the Ventersdorp Supergroup and the Roodekrans Complex near Johannesburg have broadly similar PGE patterns and concentrations to the Komati rocks, suggesting that the PGE contents of South African ultrabasic magmas are controlled by similar processes during partial mantle melting and low-P magmatic crystallization. Most workers believe that the Barberton komatiites formed by relatively moderate-degree batch melting of the mantle at high pressure. Based on the concentration of Zr in the Komati samples,. we estimate that the degree of partial melting was between 26 and 33%. We suggest that the low PGE contents and Pd/Ir ratios of all analysed South African komatiites are the result of sulphides having been retained in the mantle source during partial melting. The difference in Pd/Ir between our samples and Al-undepleted komatiites from elsewhere further suggests that the PGE are fractionated during progressive Partial melting of the mantle. Thus, our data are in agreement with other recent, studies showing that the PGE are hosted by different phases in the mantle, with Pd being concentrated by interstitial Cu-rich sulphide, and the IPGE (Os, Ir, Ru) and Rh resting in monosulphide solid solution included within silicates. Pt is possibly controlled by a discrete refractory Phase, as Pt/Pd ratios of most komatiites worldwide are sub-chondritic.
Maier, W., Roelofse, F., & Barnes, S-J. (2003). The Concentration of the Platinum-Group Elements in South African Komatiites: Implications for Mantle Sources, Melting Regime and PGE Fractionation during Crystallization. Journal of Petrology, 44(10), 1787-1804. https://doi.org/10.1093/petrology/egg059