Abstract

The origin of vast accumulations of nickel and platinum in some continental magmatic rocks is still enigmatic, but ultimately linked to silicate-sulfide liquid immiscibility. The exact composition of pristine sulfide melts has proved extremely difficult to document and understand, largely because of the ephemeral, reactive qualities and small quantities of such melts. Here we report the discovery of Fe-Ni sulfide melt globules highly enriched in noble metals (Pt, Pd, Au; 120 ppm total platinum group elements [PGE]) within an unusual high-Mg andesitic glass (8.2 wt% MgO, 57.3 wt% SiO2) dredged from the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, near the Bouvet triple junction. The composition of this glass indicates derivation of its parental silicate melt from a garnet pyroxenite mantle source with pronounced “continental” isotopic (Pb, Sr, Nd, Hf, Os, O) signatures. We infer that the chemical properties of this high-temperature (1250 °C) melt, notably high SiO2 and Ni (310 ppm) contents, promoted sulfide saturation at low pressures in a purely oceanic setting, and propose that this unique example, with its likely origin in the continental lithospheric mantle, may be a useful analogue for incipient Ni-PGE-sulfide melt generation and magmatic PGE enrichment.

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