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Major and trace element geochemistry of the Platreef on the farm Townlands, northern Bushveld Complex

Tawanda D. Manyeruke, Wolfgang D. Maier and Sarah-Jane Barnes
Major and trace element geochemistry of the Platreef on the farm Townlands, northern Bushveld Complex
South African Journal of Geology (September 2005) 108 (3): 381-396


The Platreef is a platinum group elements and base metal enriched mafic/ultramafic layer situated along the base of the northern limb of the Bushveld Complex. The present study contains a detailed petrographic and geochemical investigation of a borehole core intersection through the Platreef on the farm Townlands. At this locality, the Platreef rests on metasedimentary rocks of the Silverton Formation of the Transvaal Supergroup, and is comprised of three medium-grained units of gabbronorite/feldspathic pyroxenite that are separated by hornfels interlayers. We refer to the three platiniferous layers as the Lower, Middle and Upper Platreef. The Middle Platreef is the main mineralised layer, with total PGE contents up to 4 ppm. The Lower and Upper Platreefs are less well mineralised (up to 1.5 ppm). Trace element and S-isotope data show compositional breaks between the different platiniferous layers suggesting that they represent distinct sill-like intrusions of pyroxene and sulphide enriched crystal mushes. The study also reveals a reversed differentiation trend of more primitive rocks towards the top of the succession. For example, orthopyroxene shows an increase in Cr (sub 2) O (sub 3) from 0.07 to 0.37 weight % with height and the whole rock concentration of incompatible trace elements such as Y and Zr decreases. This pattern is interpreted to reflect enhanced crustal contamination of the lower Platreef layers. All three Platreef layers are enriched in heavy S (delta (super 34) S of 2.6 to 9.1 per mil) indicating addition of crustal sulphur, and they have elevated K, Ca, Zr and Y contents and high Zr/Y ratio relative to Critical Zone rocks from elsewhere in the Bushveld Complex, suggesting a model of crustal contamination in ore formation. Well defined correlations between the concentrations of the individual PGE, and between the PGE and S suggest that the concentration of the PGE was controlled by segregating sulphide melt. Alteration of the rocks, possibly due to infiltration by fluids derived from the floor rocks, caused localized redistribution of Cu, S and, to a lesser degree, the PGE. However, alteration, sulphur and metal mobility was apparently much less pronounced at Townlands than at other Platreef localities further to the north, notably at Sandsloot mine where the PGE are largely hosted by PGM (Armitage et al., 2002). We suggest that this is due to more pronounced devolatisation of the dolomites relative to the shales, implying that the nature of the floor rocks plays an important role in ore formation.

ISSN: 1012-0750
EISSN: 1996-8590
Coden: TGSAA3
Serial Title: South African Journal of Geology
Serial Volume: 108
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Major and trace element geochemistry of the Platreef on the farm Townlands, northern Bushveld Complex
Affiliation: University of Pretoria, Geology Department, Pretoria, South Africa
Pages: 381-396
Published: 200509
Text Language: English
Publisher: Bureau for Scientific Publications, Pretoria, South Africa
References: 40
Accession Number: 2006-034954
Categories: Economic geology, geology of ore depositsGeochemistry of rocks, soils, and sediments
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch maps
S23°30'00" - S23°30'00", E29°00'00" - E29°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, CAN, Canada
Country of Publication: South Africa
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Geological Society of South Africa. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 200610
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