Abstract

The nickeliferous Madziwa Igneous Complex consists of several lenticular, mafic-ultramafic enclaves within late Archean gneissic terrain. The lenses of igneous rock are locally deformed and metamorphosed to lower greenschist grade. They are here interpreted to be remnants of a large, composite, magmatic structure with two main components: (1) a set of narrow (10s–100s of meters wide) dikes intruding the gneissic foliation, and (2) a large lopolith made up of leuconorite. Some dikes contain a differentiated and vertically oriented layered suite comprising a central pyroxenite layer, plus norite as both a continuous marginal layer and intermittent layers within the pyroxenite. The pyroxenite-norite suite has a preliminary U-Pb zircon age of 2684 Ma. Other dikes are made up of diorite and/or ferrodiorite; in places, the dioritic rocks also intrude the pyroxenite-norite suite. The leuconorite lopolith transects both the dikes and the gneissic country rocks, its basal contacts with the pyroxenite-norite suite varying locally from intrusive to gradational to (magmatic) erosional. Although modified in places by secondary mobilization, disseminated Ni-Cu sulfides are primarily hosted within the central (ortho- to mesocumulate) pyroxenite adjacent to internal norite layers. Whole-rock geochemical data establish the comagmatic origin of the principal rock types and indicate an Archean, D-type, basaltic source magma with ca. 8% MgO, the two dioritic rock types representing late, immiscible, silica- and Fe-Ti-P-rich derivatives of pyroxenite-norite(-leuconorite) crystallization. In addition to the major rock types, peridotites occur in several outlying dikes and may represent fractionates of a komatiitic precursor to the basalt. Geologic and geochemical evidence points to bulk assimilation of country rock gneiss by the Madziwa magma and sulfide segregation triggered by felsic contamination. These processes did not occur locally within the dikes but rather in the conduit system prior to the emplacement of the magma charged with sulfide droplets. The unusual vertical layering of the pyroxenite-norite sequence and the localization of the sulfide ores are attributed to the strong outward, cooling gradient across such narrow dikes and to large-scale, lateral movement of sulfide droplets through the solidifying, pyroxene crystal framework ahead of an advancing postcumulus plagioclase crystallization front.

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