Cryptic trace-element alteration of Anorthosite, Stillwater complex, Montana

Canadian Mineralogist



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Evidence of cryptic alteration and correlations among K, Ba, and LREE concentrations indicate that a post-cumulus, low-density aqueous fluid phase significantly modified the trace-element contents of samples from Anorthosite zones I and II of the Stillwater Complex, Montana. Concentrations of Ba, Ca, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hf, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Sc, Sr, Th, Zn, and the rare-earth elements (REE) were measured in whole rocks and plagioclase separates from five traverses across the two main plagioclase cumulate (anorthosite) zones and the contiguous cumulates of the Stillwater Complex in an attempt to better understand the origin and solidification of the anorthosites. However, nearly the entire observed compositional range for many trace elements can be duplicated at a single locality by discriminating between samples rich in oikocrystic pyroxene and those which are composed almost entirely of plagioclase and show anhedral-granular texture. Plagioclase separates with high trace-element contents were obtained from the pyroxene-poor samples, for which maps of K concentration show plagioclase grains to contain numerous fractures hosting a fine-grained, K-rich phase, presumed to be sericite. Secondary processes in layered intrusions have the potential to cause cryptic disturbance, and the utmost care must be taken to ensure that samples provide information about primary processes. Although plagioclase from Anorthosite zones I and II shows significant compositional variation, there are no systematic changes in the major- or trace-element compositions of plagioclase over as much as 630 m of anorthosite thickness or 18 km of strike length. Plagioclase in the two major anorthosite zones shows little distinction in trace-element concentrations from plagioclase in the cumulates immediately below, between, and above these zones.

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Cryptic trace-element alteration of Anorthosite, Stillwater complex, Montana
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Canadian Mineralogist
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Canadian Mineralogist
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