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Osmium, ruthenium, iridium and uranium in silicates and chromite from the eastern Bushveld Complex, South Africa

January 1, 1974

Osmium, ruthenium, iridium and uranium contents were determined in eight ortho pyroxene, seven plagioclase, and three chromite mineral separates from the eastern Bushveld Complex. Neutron activation analysis was used to measure the platinum metals, and uranium was determined by a fission track technique. The platinum metals were found to be present within each minéral in the proportions Os:Ru:Ir = 1:7:1, while the concentrations of these metals in the minerals are in the ratios orthopyroxene:plagioclase:chromite = 1:16:700. The concentration of uranium was found to range from 11 to 66 ppb (parts per billion) and not to vary significantly from mineral to mineral. The data for the platinum metals are consistent with a model in which the eastern Bushveld Complex was formed by the fractional crystallization of two separately injected magmas. A computer fit of this model to these data indicates that the initial concentrations of Os, Ru and Ir in the first magma were 0.24, 2.0 and 0.21 ppb and in the second magma were 0.16, 1.1 and 0.18 ppb, respectively. The fit also yields the distribution coefficients for the partitioning between the liquid and cumulus orthopyroxene, cumulus plagioclase and cumulus chromite. These coefficients (mineral/liquid) for osmium are 4.5, 66 and 2700; for ruthenium, they are 5, 65 and 2700; and for iridium, they are 4, 60 and 1600. To make this fit, it was necessary to hypothesize the existence of two types of chromite: one type with a large distribution coefficient, presumably formed as a cumulus phase at high temperature, and another, more prevalent type with a smaller distribution coefficient, which may have been formed by postcumulus growth at a lower temperature. This hypothesis is supported by data for coexisting chromite-silicate pairs, which indicate that the chromite grains expelled these platinum metals as they cooled.

    Publication Year 1974
    Title Osmium, ruthenium, iridium and uranium in silicates and chromite from the eastern Bushveld Complex, South Africa
    DOI 10.1016/0016-7037(74)90113-6
    Authors R.h. Gijbels, Hugh T. Millard, G. A. Desborough, A.J. Bartel
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Index ID 70010059
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse