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TitleAn assessment of equilibrium in the Merensky Reef : a textural, geochemical and Nd isotope study of coexisting plagioclase and orthopyroxene from Winnaarshoek in the eastern Bushveld Complex, RSA
AuthorRaines, Mark Douglas
SubjectMines and mineral resources -- South Africa -- Bushveld Complex
SubjectElectron probe microanalysis
SubjectIsotope geology
SubjectMineralogical chemistry
Format159 leaves
AbstractEvidence of mineral disequilibrium is presented for the Merensky Reef at Winnaarshoek in the eastern Bushveld Complex. Petrographic disequilibrium textures, disequilibrium in orthopyroxene, plagioclase and clinopyroxene mineral compositions as well as disequilibrium in Sm-Nd isotopic compositions of whole rock samples and coexisting plagioclase and orthopyroxene are presented. Disequilibrium textures presented include clinopyroxene exsolution lamellae in orthopyroxene; resorbed plagioclase in orthopyroxene or relict plagioclase; various inclusions such as orthopyroxene, plagioclase or clinopyroxene in larger oikocrysts of clinopyroxene or orthopyroxene; discontinuous rims of clinopyroxene surrounding orthopyroxene; resorbed orthopyroxene in clinopyroxene; and corona textures associated with olivine. These textures were used to derive a possible mineral crystallization sequence. At least two sequences of crystallization took place, both of which crystallized plagioclase first. One sequence then crystallized olivine which was then consumed to produce orthopyroxene which crystallized prior to late clinopyroxene. The other sequence indicates orthopyroxene crystallization after plagioclase crystallization, followed by crystallization of clinopyroxene. These sequences indicate at least two magmas were responsible for the genesis of the Merensky Reef and its hanging wall and footwall units. Compositionally, disequilibrium is evident in the range of compositions found in coexisting orthopyroxene, plagioclase and clinopyroxene with stratigraphic height, with particular reference to the change in mineral composition in each of the hanging wall, Reef and footwall units. Orthopyroxene compositions range in Mg numbers between 74.6 and 82.9 (77.4) in the hanging wall, 78.5 and 87.0 (avg. 81.1) in the Reef, and 77.9 and 84.1 (avg. 81.3) in the footwall. Plagioclase compositions range in An content between An64.9 and An82.3 (avg. An75.1) in the hanging wall, An56.8 to An70.8 (avg. An62.7) in the Reef, and An54.2 to An86.3 (avg. An73.2) in the footwall. In terms of Sm-Nd isotopic compositions, disequilibrium is evident between both whole rock samples and coexisting plagioclase and orthopyroxenes. Bulk rock Sm-Nd isotopic compositions show a range in ԐNd values between ԐNd (2.06 Ga) = -4.8 to -6.4 in the hangingwall, ԐNd (2.06 Ga) = -6.3 to -8.5 in the Reef, and ԐNd (2.06 Ga) = -4.5 to -6.3 in the footwall. Similar ԐNd values are present in the hanging wall and footwall units, with a clear “spike” in the Merensky Reef. ԐNd values in plagioclase are between ԐNd (2.06 Ga) = -5.8 and -7.8, while orthopyroxene isotopic Sm-Nd values are between ԐNd (2.06 Ga = -7.1 and -9.1. The mineral disequilibrium features presented within this study help elucidate the crystallization sequence of the magma as well as to constrain the contamination of the magma upon ascension and emplacement of the Merensky Reef. The results of this study favour a model where a mantle plume resulted in the ascent of a new magma which was contaminated by the assimilation of old, lower crust. Contamination took place prior to the possible lateral emplacement of the Merensky reef as a density current. 5-10% contamination of depleted mantle or a B2-“like” source by Archaean TTGs is modeled to achieve the contamination “spike” of ԐNd = -8.5 in the Merensky Reef.
PublisherRhodes University
PublisherFaculty of Science, Geology