Nearly monomineralic stratiform chromitite seams of variable thickness (millimeters to meters) occur in many of the world's layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions. These seams are often associated with economically significant quantities of platinum group metals, yet the petrogenesis of these societally important materials remains enigmatic. Here we evaluate processes associated with late-magmatic (postcumulus) textural maturation of chromitite seams from four layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions of different ages and sizes. From largest to smallest, these intrusions are the ∼2060 Ma Bushveld Complex (South Africa), the ∼2710 Ma Stillwater Complex (USA), the ∼1270 Ma Muskox Intrusion (Canada), and the ∼60 Ma Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion (Scotland). Three endmember chromitite textures are described, based on chromite grain size and degree of textural equilibration: (1) coarse-grained chromite crystals (>0.40 mm) that occur in the central portions of seams and exhibit high degrees of solid-state textural equilibration; (2) fine-grained chromite crystals (0.11–0.44 mm) at the margins of seams in contact with and disseminated throughout host anorthosite or pyroxenite; and (3) fine-grained chromite crystals (0.005–0.28 mm) hosted within intra-seam orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene, and olivine oikocrysts. Crystal size distribution and spatial distribution pattern analyses are consistent with coarsening occurring through processes of textural maturation, including the sintering of grains by coalescence. We propose that textural maturation initially occurred in the supra-solidus state followed by an important stage of solid-state textural maturation and that these equilibration processes played a major role in the eventual microstructural and compositional homogeneity of the chromitite seams.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.