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Variant Offset-Type Platinum Group Element Reef Mineralization in Basal Olivine Cumulates of the Kapalagulu Intrusion, Western Tanzania
Economic Geology  (IF4.49),  Pub Date : 2021-06-01, DOI: 10.5382/econgeo.4816
M. D. Prendergast

The Kapalagulu intrusion in eastern Tanzania hosts a major, 420-m-thick, stratiform/stratabound platinum group element (PGE)-bearing sulfide zone—the Lubalisi reef—within a prominent, chromititiferous, harzburgite unit close to its stratigraphic base. Several features of the vertical base and precious metal distributions (in a composite stratigraphic section based upon two deep exploration drill holes) display similarities to those of offset-type PGE reefs that formed under the overall control of Rayleigh fractionation: (1) composite layering (at several scales) defined by systematic vertical variations of sulfide and precious metal contents and intermetallic ratios, indicating repeated cycles of PGE enrichment and depletion in the order Pd-Pt-Au-Cu, and (2) in the lower part of the reef, stratigraphic offsets of the precious metal peaks below peak sulfide (Cu) content. The form and geochemistry of the reef are consistent with overturns of basal liquid layers within a liquid layering system (i.e., stable density-driven stratification of a magma chamber), plus at least two minor inputs of parental magma during which the resident magma was recharged with sulfur and metals, and the effective depletion of precious metals in the magma midway through reef development. The Lubalisi reef differs from classic offset-type PGE reefs, however, principally because individual Pd, Pt, and Au enrichment peaks are coincident, not offset. The reef is set apart from other offset-type PGE reefs in three additional ways: (1) its association with olivine cumulates that crystallized soon after initial magma emplacement and well below the first appearance of cumulus pyroxene or plagioclase (implying attainment of sulfide saturation and precious metal enrichment without prolonged concentration of sulfur and chalcophile metals by normal magma cooling and differentiation), (2) the probable role of chromite crystallization in not only triggering sulfide segregation during reef formation but also facilitating precious metal enrichment in the early stages of reef development, and (3) its great width. The early stage of fractionation may also help explain the coincident precious metal peaks through its effect on apparent precious metal partition coefficients.