Platinum-group elemental chemistry of the Baima and Taihe Fe-Ti oxide bearing gabbroic intrusions of the Emeishan large igneous province, SW China

J. Gregory Shellnutt, George S.K. Ma, Liang Qi

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Nickel-, copper-, and platinum group element (PGE)-enriched sulphide mineralization in large igneous provinces has attracted numerous PGE studies. However, the distribution and behavior of PGEs as well as the history of sulphide saturation are less clear in oxide-dominated mineralization. Platinum group elements of oxide-bearing layered mafic intrusions from the Emeishan large igneous province are examined in this study. Samples collected from the Baima and Taihe oxide-bearing layered gabbroic intrusions reveal contrasting results. The samples from Baima gabbroic rocks have low total PGE abundances (σPGE < 4 ppb) whereas the Taihe gabbroic rocks, on average, have more than double the concentration but are variable ranging from σPGE < 2 ppb to σPGE ~300 ppb. The Baima gabbro is platinum-subgroup PGE (PPGE = Rh, Pt and Pd) enriched and iridium-subgroup PGE (IPGE = Os, Ir and Ru) depleted, with a distinct positive Ru anomaly on a primitive mantle normalized multi-element plot. The Taihe gabbros are also PPGE enriched but with negative Ru and Pd anomalies on a primitive mantle normalized multi-element plot. The PGE concentrations of Baima rocks are indicative of fractionation of a relatively evolved, mafic, S-undersaturated parental magma that was affected by earlier sulphide segregation. In contrast, the Taihe rocks record evidence of both S-saturated and S-undersaturated conditions and that the parental magma was likely emplaced very close to S-saturation. Comparisons of the platinum group element contents in the Emeishan flood basalts and the Emeishan oxide-bearing intrusions suggest that the PGE budget in a magma is not controlled by magma series (high-Ti vs. low-Ti), but very much by crustal contamination. The unlikelihood of substantial crustal contamination in the Taihe magma allowed the magma to remain S-undersaturated for a longer duration. PGE and sulphide mineralization was not identified in the Taihe intrusion but the presence of one PGE-enriched sample (Pt + Pd = ~300 ppb) suggests that the parental magma likely did not experience sulphide segregation and is a potential target for further prospecting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalChem. Erde
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar



  • Emeishan large igneous province
  • Oxide-bearing layered gabbroic intrusions
  • Permian
  • Platinum group elements
  • SW China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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