GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 163-2
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


YUAN, Qian, Department of Geology, University of Liege, Liege, 4000, Belgium; Faculty of Earth Resources, China University of geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China; School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, NAMUR, Olivier, Earth Sciences, KU Leuven, Celestijnlaan 200E, Heverlee, 3001, Belgium, ROBERTS, R. James, Department of Geology, University of Pretoria, Private Bax X20, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0028, South Africa, FISCHER, Lennart Alexander, Institute for Mineralogy, University of Hanover, Hanover, 30167, Germany and CHARLIER, Bernard, Department of Geology (B20), Université de Liège, SART TILMAN, B-4000, Belgium

Cumulate rocks of the Upper Main Zone and Upper Zone (UUMZ) of the Bushveld Complex, South Africa, contain the world’s major resources of Fe–Ti–V–P, hosted in Ti-magnetite and apatite, and are commonly considered as having crystallized from the last major injection of magma into the magma chamber. In this study, we present the petrography, modal proportions, whole-rock major element chemistry (260 samples), electron microprobe data (~10 000 analyses for plagioclase, olivine, and pyroxene), and compiled analyses of Cr in magnetite (239 samples) for the UUMZ sampled over 2.1 km of the Bierkraal drill cores in the western limb of the Complex. The UUMZ section exhibits a broad normal fractionation trend upwards, but a series of reversals to more primitive anorthite contents in plagioclase, Mg# in pyroxenes and olivine, Cr in whole-rocks and Cr in magnetite separates are observed, accompanied by the appearance or disappearance of various minerals. Anorthosite or leucogabbro layers are closely linked to these reversals; the reversals in An % of plagioclase are used as boundaries to divide the UUMZ into 18 cycles. These cycles are interpreted as indications of magma chamber replenishment by plagioclase-laden magmas (up to 20 vol. % plagioclase) and are also marked by spikes in Cr content. In addition, abundant Fe–Ti oxide-bearing plagioclase-rich rocks are identified in the lower half of the UUMZ. These have crystallized from a hybrid melt produced by the mixing of a new plagioclase-bearing magma batch and the resident magma. Further crystallization of this hybrid liquid may lead to the formation of magnetite layers in the lower part of the UUMZ. The Bushveld UUMZ therefore grew by multiple emplacements of crystal-laden magmas coming from deep-seated chambers. Slow cooling in a shallow chamber explains the systematic bottom-up compositional evolution in the cumulate pile within individual cycles. The residual melt reached silicate liquid immiscibility soon after the saturation of apatite. Thereafter, segregation of conjugate Fe-rich and Si-rich melts and crystallization of the paired melts produces cumulates with a smooth upward decrease in Fe–Ti oxides, whereas plagioclase mode increases in each apatite-bearing cycle. A comparison of systematic geochemical analyses and a detailed lithological stratigraphy between the Bushveld limbs demonstrates the possible connectivity between the western and eastern Upper Zone but indicates notable differences from the Bellevue section of the northern limb.