Abstract

The 3033 Ma Stella layered intrusion of South Africa consists largely of magnetite gabbros and gabbros that are hosted by greenstones of the Kraaipan belt. The intrusion contains a 100-m-thick, platinum group element (PGE)–enriched interval that includes a number of laterally continuous PGE reefs constituting the oldest mineralization of this type known on Earth. The richest of the reefs is hosted by magnetitite and contains 10–15 ppm Pt + Pd over 1 m, representing by far the highest PGE grades known up to this time in magnetitite-hosted Pt-Pd reefs. The PGEs are interpreted to have been concentrated by sulfide melt, after S saturation had been reached in the advanced stages of magmatic differentiation, in response to magnetite crystallization. Reaction between sulfide melt and oxides led to late magmatic S loss, causing a paucity of sulfides in most of the PGE mineralized interval. As a result, the reefs cannot be distinguished macroscopically from their unmineralized host rocks, and we suggest that similar mineralization may have been overlooked in the upper parts of other tholeiitic intrusions elsewhere.

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