Abstract

Spinels associated with discordant bodies of iron-rich ultramafic pegmatite are described from the Amandelbult Platinum mine in the northwestern part of the Bushveld Complex. The spinels are divided into three groups, disseminated Ti-magnetite, disseminated Fe-Ti-Cr spinel and massive Fe-Ti-Cr spinel. The Fe-Ti-Cr spinels show a range of unusual compositions intermediate between chromite and Ti-magnetite. A relationship was found between stratigraphic height and spinel-type, with the Fe-Ti-Cr spinels restricted to pegmatites from the Upper Critical zone and Ti-magnetite to pegmatites from the Lower Main zone. Ilmenite is a ubiquitous component of all of the pegmatites examined here. The massive Fe-Ti-Cr oxide pegmatites are found only where earlier-formed chromitite layers are juxtaposed with sheet-like bodies of olivine-clinopyroxene pegmatite. A distinct thickening of the original chromitite layers in this situation, and compositional gradients within them, points to accretion of Fe-Ti-Cr spinels onto them prior to partial sub-solidus re-equilibration. Analytical data are presented for these spinels and for the Ti-magnetite.

The composition of the Fe-Ti-Cr spinels is not duplicated by cumulus spinels in the Bushveld Complex, but the compositions and microtextures of the disseminated Ti-magnetite are very similar to cumulus Ti-magnetite from the Upper zone. Accordingly, it is deduced that the Ti-magnetite in the pegmatites from the Lower Main zone, together with the ilmenite, crystallized at magmatic temperatures from a suitable Fe-Ti-rich silicate-oxide melt. No evidence has been found to link the pegmatites to hydrothermal fluids. The Cr-rich nature of the disseminated spinels in pegmatites from the Upper Critical zone suggests that the pegmatite melt was richer in chromium at this stratigraphic height, although re-equilibration with earlier-formed cumulus chromite also occurred. Formation of the Fe-Ti-Cr oxide pegmatites reflects a complex process that is incompletely understood and why new oxides plate onto pre-existing chromitite layers that are juxtaposed with Fe-rich ultramafic pegmatites is a matter of conjecture.

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