The Upper Critical and Lower Main Zones of the eastern Bushveld Complex

Show simple item record Seabrook, Charlotte 2006-11-15T12:20:00Z 2006-11-15T12:20:00Z 2006-11-15T12:20:00Z
dc.description Student Number : 0201438A - PhD thesis - School of Geosciences - Faculty of Science en
dc.description.abstract This project focuses on the Upper Critical and Lower Main Zones in the eastern Bushveld Complex, South Africa. Lithological and stratigraphic information show that there are distinct differences at this level between the eastern and western limbs of the complex. Geochemical studies are centred on the Merensky and Bastard Cyclic Units in which the platiniferous Merensky Reef occurs. A major geochemical hiatus occurs in the Bushveld Complex at the level of the platiniferous Merensky Reef, close to the Critical/Main Zone boundary. The origin of this hiatus and its relation to mineralisation has not been fully resolved. Geochemical parameters are investigated that allow minerals in the Merensky and Bastard Cyclic Units to be classified as originating from either Critical or Main Zone magmas. Modelling of element ratios (Ni/Y, Cr/Ni, Cr/Co, Y/Co, Cr/V, Co/V and Cr/MgO) demonstrates the varying reliability of using ratios as geochemcial tools to constrain magma influxes within a chamber. However, it is shown that the Cr/MgO ratio is effective in determining real differences across the Critical/Main Zone boundary that are independent of lithology. In addition, initial Sr isotope ratios for plagioclase are significantly different in Critical and Main Zone rocks. Geochemical data through the Merensky and Bastard Cyclic Units indicate that orthopyroxene that originated from magma with composition like that of the Critical Zone magma sometimes occurs together with plagioclase that originated from Main Zone magma. In detail, in the pyroxenite at the base of the Merensky Unit, both plagioclase and orthopyroxene display Critical Zone signatures, but in the overlying part of the Merensky Cyclic Unit, plagioclase increasingly shows a Main Zone signature, whereas orthopyroxene continues to display a Critical Zone signature. Similarly, in the Bastard pyroxenite, Sr isotopes and absolute Sr in plagioclase display a range of values from Main Zone to Critical Zone, but orthopyroxene consistently displays Critical Zone affinity. These observations of mineral disequilibrium clearly show that the two major minerals in the Merensky and Bastard Cyclic Units were formed from two different, but coexisting, magmas. A model that accounts for this disequilibrium is proposed here. It invokes the influx of Main Zone magma at the level of the base of the Merensky unit that dispalced the Critical Zone magma upward, but the two magmas did not mix. The latter continued to crystallise orthopyroxene which sank through the Main Zone influx, due to its density contrast. These crystals collected on the crystal pile to form the Merensky pyroxenite. The Main Zone magma, into which the cumulus Critical Zone orthopyroxene accumulated, crystallised interstitial plagioclase that had a Main Zone Sr isotopic ratio. Whole-rock, major element geochemical data show that a variable proportion of the plagioclase in both the Merensky and Bastard pyroxenites is cumulus. It is inferred to have accumulated with orthopyroxene and has a Critical Zone initial Sr isotope ratio. Thus the two pyroxenites now yield a mixed Sr isotopic signature of Critical Zone cumulus and Main Zone intercumulus and possibly cumulus plagioclase that varies along strike. Above the two pyroxenites, the Sr signature of the norites and anorthosites of both cyclic units is dominated by cumulus plagioclase from the Main Zone magma. It is concluded that the variations in initial Sr isotope ratios do not result from mixing of magmas, but result from accumulation of orthopyroxene and plagioclase from a higher, isotopically distinct layer of magma into an underlying layer. The Merensky and Bastard Cyclic Units therefore display features of Critical or Main Zone magma characteristics depending upon which chemical parameter is considered. These cycles are therefore classified as a Transitional Unit. en
dc.format.extent 18672154 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Bushveld Complex en
dc.subject Critical Zone en
dc.subject Main Zone en
dc.subject Merensky Reef en
dc.subject Strontium Isotopes en
dc.subject mineral mixing en
dc.subject magma chamber en
dc.subject layering en
dc.subject PGE en
dc.subject stratiform en
dc.title The Upper Critical and Lower Main Zones of the eastern Bushveld Complex en
dc.type Thesis en

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