The Kalatongke Cu-Ni sulfide deposit in the Paleozoic Altay orogenic belt, NW China, is hosted in a Permian mafic intrusion consisting of norite, troctolite, gabbro, and diorite. Disseminated Ni-Cu, massive Ni-Cu, and massive Cu-rich sulfide ores are mainly hosted in norite and gabbro. Some massive Ni-Cu ores also occur in the Carboniferous sedimentary rocks. The geologic and compositional relationships between various sulfide ores and the rocks of Kalatongke offer a new interpretation of the sequence of emplacement of the magmas, which underpins an understanding of the compositions of the ores and the formation of the Kalatongke deposit.
Olivine grains from disseminated Ni-Cu ores have Fo values ranging from 71.6 to 78.0 mol % and Ni contents from 1,000 to 2,200 ppm. Typically, Ni decreases from the cores to the rims from 2,000 to 1,000 ppm at constant Fo content, indicating the reaction of early-formed olivine with later-segregated sulfide melt. Cr spinels at Kalatongke are highly enriched in Fe3+ and Fe2+, with relatively low Cr, Al, and Ti, reflecting reaction with evolved trapped intercumulus melt.
Norites are depleted in Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, and Th and enriched in Sr and Ba, whereas disseminated Ni-Cu sulfide ores have considerable depletion of Rb and enrichment of Sr and Ba and lack depletion of Nb, Ta, Zr, and Hf, indicating their different origins. Disseminated Ni-Cu sulfide ores have bulk compositions with variable Cu and Ni contents which are much lower than those of massive Cu-rich and Ni-Cu ores, but disseminated and massive Ni-Cu ores have similar PGE contents with relatively low Pd/Ir ratios. Massive Cu-rich ores have much higher Pd and Pt with very high Pd/Ir ratios.
The Kalatongke Cu-Ni sulfide deposit appears to have formed from two different pulses of PGE-poor and Cu-rich basaltic magmas that underwent different degrees of assimilation and fractional crystallization. The first magma pulse gained sulfide saturation because of minor crustal contamination and fractionated a small amount of sulfide (<0.03%); the evolved melt then intruded and assimilated crustal materials to attain sulfide saturation again. Sulfide liquid segregated from the magma to form the massive sulfide melts and residual magma formed the noritic rocks in the shallow magma chamber. The segregated massive sulfide melts then underwent further fractionation to form massive Ni-Cu and massive Cu-rich ores. The second pulse of magma after removal of sulfides (<0.02%) experienced more crustal contamination and re attained S saturation. This new S-saturated and phenocryst-laden magma intruded the earlier formed massive sulfide ores and norites and formed the disseminated sulfide ores.