The tectonic setting of intraplate magmas, typically a plume intersecting a rift, is ideal for the development of Ni - Cu - platinum-group element-bearing sulphides. The plume transports metal-rich magmas close to the mantle - crust boundary. The interaction of the rift and plume permits rapid transport of the magma into the crust, thus ensuring that no sulphides are lost from the magma en route to the crust. The rift may contain sediments which could provide the sulphur necessary to bring about sulphide saturation in the magmas. The plume provides large volumes of mafic magma; thus any sulphides that form can collect metals from a large volume of magma and consequently the sulphides will be metal rich. The large volume of magma provides sufficient heat to release large quantities of S from the crust, thus providing sufficient S to form a large sulphide deposit. The composition of the sulphides varies on a number of scales: (i) there is a variation between geographic areas, in which sulphides from the Noril'sk - Talnakh area are the richest in metals and those from the Muskox intrusion are poorest in metals; (ii) there is a variation between textural types of sulphides, in which disseminated sulphides are generally richer in metals than the associated massive and matrix sulphides; and (iii) the massive and matrix sulphides show a much wider range of compositions than the disseminated sulphides, and on the basis of their Ni/Cu ratio the massive and matrix sulphides can be divided into Cu rich and Fe rich. The Cu-rich sulphides are also enriched in Pt, Pd, and Au; in contrast, the Fe-rich sulphides are enriched in Fe, Os, Ir, Ru, and Rh. Nickel concentrations are similar in both. Differences in the composition between the sulphides from different areas may be attributed to a combination of differences in composition of the silicate magma from which the sulphides segregated and differences in the ratio of silicate to sulphide liquid (R factors). The higher metal content of the disseminated sulphides relative to the massive and matrix sulphides may be due to the fact that the disseminated sulphides equilibrated with a larger volume of magma than massive and matrix sulphides. The difference in composition between the Cu- and Fe-rich sulphides may be the result of the fractional crystallization of monosulphide solid solution from a sulphide liquid, with the Cu-rich sulphides representing the liquid and the Fe-rich sulphides representing the cumulate.
Additional publication details
Ni, Cu, Au, and platinum-group element contents of sulphides associated with intraplate magmatism: A synthesis