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Platinum-group element abundance and distribution in chromite deposits of the Acoje Block, Zambales Ophiolite Complex, Philippines

Journal of Geochemical Exploration
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0375-6742(90)90086-p
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Abstract Platinum-group elements (PGE) occur in ore-grade concentration in some of the chromite deposits related to the ultramafic section of the Acoje Block of the Zambales Ophiolite Complex. The deposits are of three types: Type 1 - associated with cumulate peridotites at the base of the crust; Type 2 - in dunite pods from the top 1 km of mantle harzburgite; and Type 3 - like Type 2, but in deeper levels of the harzburgite. Most of the deposites have chromite compositions that are high in Cr with Cr/(Cr + Al) (expressed as chromium index, Cr#) > 0.6; high-Al (Cr# < 0.6) chromite deposits are relatively rare, occurring as interspersed orebodies in regions of Types 2 and 3. Sulfide-bearing Type 1 high-Cr deposits are PGE-enriched; the high-Al deposits have lowest Ir and Pd. Among the PGEs, Ir ranges from <20 to 550 ppb, Rh from <100 to 1100 ppb, Rh from 0.7 to 760 ppb, Pt from <1.0 to 5960 ppb and Pd from <0.5 to 8350 ppb. Chondrite-normalized (CN) PGE patterns are diverse, and include those with both negative slope (Ir > Pd, thought to be characteristic of PGE-barren deposits) and positive slope (Ir < Pd, characteristic of PGE-rich deposits). Iridium, Ru and Os commonly occur as micron-size laurite (sulfide) inclusions in unfractured chromite. Laurite and native Os are also found as inclusions in interstitial sulfides. Platinum and Pd occur as alloy inclusions (and possibly as solid solution) in interstitial Ni-Cu sulfides and as tellurobismuthides in serpentine and altered sulfides. Variability of PGE distribution may be explained by alteration, crystal fractionation or partial melting processes. Alteration and metamorphism were ruled out, because PGE contents do not correlate with degree of serpentinization or the abundance and type (hydroxyl versus non-hydroxyl) of silicate inclusions in chromite. Preliminary Os isotopic data do not support crustal contamination as a source of the PGEs in the Acoje deposits. The anomalous PGE concentrations in Type 1 high-Cr chromite deposits are attributed to two stages of enrichment: an early enrichment of their mantle source from previous melting events and a later stage of sulfide segregation accompanying chromite crystallization. High-Al chromite deposits which crystallized from basalts derived from relatively low degrees of melting owe their low PGE content to partitioning of PGEs in sulfides and alloys that remain in the mantle. High-Cr deposits crystallized from melts that were previously enriched with PGEs during early melting events of their mantle source; Pt and Pd ore concentrations (ppm levels) are attained by segregation of magmatic sulfides. The Acoje deposits indicate that ophiolites are a potential economic source of the PGEs.

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