Chromian spinels occur in mafic–ultramafic inclusions in the Sublayer of the Sudbury Igneous Complex (SIC) as well as in mafic–ultramafic rocks in the immediate footwall of the Sublayer. The host rocks are pyroxenite and melanorite with minor dunite, harzburgite, and melatroctolite. As common accessory phases in these rocks, the chromian spinels display euhedral or subhedral forms and are included in olivine and orthopyroxene. Chromian spinel grains generally have ilmenite lamellae and contain abundant inclusions (zircon, olivine, diopside, plagioclase, biotite, and sulfide). All the chromian spinels have similar trace element abundances and are rich in TiO2 (0.5–15 wt.%). They have constant Cr# (100Cr/(Cr + Al)) (55–70) and exhibit a continuum in composition that traverses the normal fields of spinels in a Al–(Fe3+ + 2Ti)–Cr triangular diagram. This continuum extends to that of the composition of chromian magnetite in the host norite matrix to the mafic–ultramafic inclusions. This continuum in composition of the spinels suggests that the noritic matrix to the Sublayer formed from the same magma as the inclusions. A positive correlation between the Cr and Al contents of the spinels was probably produced by dilution of these elements by Fe3+ contributed, perhaps, by a plagioclase-saturated melt. Zircon inclusions in a chromian spinel grain reflect incorporation of crustal, felsic materials into the magma before crystallization of chromian spinel. The chemical characteristics and mineral inclusions of the spinels suggest that the Sublayer formed in response to magma mixing. It is suggested that subsequent to the formation of the crustal melt, mantle-derived high-Mg magmas mixed vigourously with this and generated the magmatic sulfides that eventually formed the Ni – Cu – platinum-group elements sulfide ore deposits. Some of the early crystallization products of the high-Mg magma settled to the chamber floor, where they partially mixed with the crustal melt and formed the mafic–ultramafic inclusions and footwall complexes.

You do not currently have access to this article.