DOI: 10.5382/econgeo.5017 ISSN:

The Roles of Various Types of Crustal Contamination in the Genesis of the Jinchuan Magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE Deposit: New Mineralogical and C-S-Sr-Nd Isotope Constraints

Shengchao Xue, Qingfei Wang, Yalei Wang, Wenlei Song, Jun Deng
  • Economic Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geology
  • Geophysics


Addition of crustal sulfur to the Jinchuan magma or oxidation of the magma associated with carbonate assimilation has been considered to be the main cause of sulfide saturation in the magma by two opposing groups of researchers. To address this controversy, we have carried out an integrated mineralogical and C-S-Sr-Nd isotope study of the Jinchuan magmatic Ni-Cu-platinum group element (PGE) sulfide ore deposit. Pure marble, olivine marble, serpentine marble, and hybrid rocks occur in the contact zone. The δ13Ccarb values of the Jinchuan sulfide-bearing ultramafic rocks containing calcite xenocryst are from –4.7 to –2.9‰, which are similar to or slightly lower than those of the marbles and associated hybrid rocks (–3.9 to 0.8‰) but significantly higher than those of the calcite-barren intrusive rocks (–9.3 to –8.0‰). This, together with the calcite xenocryst and calcium-silicate minerals in hybrid rocks and some intrusive rocks, indicates that carbonate assimilation took place during magma-carbonate interaction. Only less than several hundred ppm of the CO2 gas produced in the reaction zone could be added to the Jinchuan magma. Such a trace amount of additional CO2 was rapidly swamped by the much greater mass of FeO in the magma, resulting in little change in the FeO/Fe2O3 of the magma, and thereby negligible change of magma redox state. This is evident from similar calculated fO2 values for the calcite-bearing (~QFM+0.7) and calcite-barren (~QFM+0.6) intrusive rocks. The new results rule out the possibility that sulfide saturation in the Jinchuan magma resulted from in situ carbonate assimilation. The Sr-Nd isotope data from this study and previous studies are consistent with up to 20% bulk contamination with siliceous crustal materials at depth, followed by minor amounts of in situ carbonate assimilation by the Jinchuan magma. Our new sulfur isotope data expand the range of δ34S for the Jinchuan deposit significantly. The new range is from −7.6 to 3.0‰, with an average of −1.8‰, which is generally lower than the mantle value (0 ± 2‰). The new result supports the premise that crustal sulfur was involved in the genesis of the Jinchuan deposit. Very high, crustal-like S/Se ratios (as high as 8080) for some of the samples from the deposit provide additional support for the interpretation. The country rocks in the vicinity of the Jinchuan deposit analyzed to date have δ34S values varying from −4.0 to 11.3‰, with an average of 2.9‰, which is higher than both the mantle value and the average value of the Jinchuan deposit, suggesting that the Jinchuan magma acquired some crustal sulfur at depth, likely concurrent with the siliceous assimilation. Numerical modeling of δ34S-S/Se of sulfide ores and country rocks further illustrates that the observed variations of δ34S and S/Se ratios are related to the assimilation of S-rich rocks located at depth, followed by progressive dilution of the contaminated δ34S-S/Se signature. Based on the new results, we conclude that contamination with siliceous crustal materials as well as addition of crustal sulfur at depth played a critical role in triggering sulfide saturation in the Jinchuan magma.

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