Abstract

Mineralogical and chemical zonations observed in massive sulfide ores from Ni-Cu-platinum group element (PGE) deposits are commonly ascribed to the fractional crystallization of monosulfide solid solution (MSS) and intermediate solid solution (ISS) from sulfide liquid. Recent studies of classic examples of zoned orebodies at Sudbury and Voisey’s Bay (Canada) demonstrated that the chemistry of magnetite crystallized from sulfide liquid was varying in response to sulfide fractional crystallization. Other classic examples of zoned Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide deposits occur in the Norilsk-Talnakh mining district (Russia), yet magnetite in these orebodies has received little attention. In this contribution, we document the chemistry of magnetite in samples from Norilsk-Talnakh, spanning the classic range of sulfide composition, from Cu poor (MSS) to Cu rich (ISS). Based on textural features and mineral associations, four types of magnetite with distinct chemical composition are identified: (1) MSS magnetite, (2) ISS magnetite, (3) reactional magnetite (at the sulfide-silicate interface), and (4) hydrothermal magnetite (resulting from sulfide-fluid interaction). Compositional variability in lithophile and chalcophile elements records sulfide fractional crystallization across MSS and ISS magnetites and sulfide interaction with silicate minerals (reactional magnetite) and fluids (hydrothermal magnetite). Estimated partition coefficients for magnetite in sulfide systems are unlike those in silicate systems. In sulfide systems, all lithophile elements are compatible and chalcophile elements tend to be incompatible with magnetite, but in silicate systems some lithophile elements are incompatible and chalcophile elements are compatible with magnetite. Finally, comparison with magnetite data from other Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide deposits pinpoints that the nature of parental silicate magma, degree of sulfide evolution, cocrystallizing phases, and alteration conditions influence magnetite composition.

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