Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 166, Issue 1, pp 309–327

Towards a model for the in situ origin of PGE reefs in layered intrusions: insights from chromitite seams of the Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion, Scotland

  • Rais Latypov
  • Brian O’Driscoll
  • Andrey Lavrenchuk
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00410-013-0876-3

Cite this article as:
Latypov, R., O’Driscoll, B. & Lavrenchuk, A. Contrib Mineral Petrol (2013) 166: 309. doi:10.1007/s00410-013-0876-3


The current debate on the origin of platinum-group element (PGE) reefs in layered intrusions centres mostly on gravity settling of sulphide liquid from overlying magma versus its introduction with interstitial melt/fluids migrating upward from the underlying cumulate pile. Here, we show that PGE-rich chromitite seams of the Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion provide evidence for an alternative origin of such deposits in layered intrusions. These laterally extensive 2-mm-thick chromitite seams occur at the bases of several cyclic mafic–ultramafic units and show lithological and textural relationships suggesting in situ growth directly at a crystal–liquid interface. This follows from chromitite development along the edges of steeply inclined culminations and depressions at unit boundaries, even where these are vertically oriented or overhanging. High concentrations of PGE (up to 2–3 ppm Pd + Pt) are controlled by fine-grained base-metal sulphides, which are closely associated with chromitite seams. The following sequence of events explains the origin of the PGE-rich chromitite seams: (a) emplacement of picritic magma that caused thermal and mechanical erosion of underlying cumulate, followed by in situ growth of chromite against the base, (b) precipitation of sulphide droplets on chromite grains acting as favourable substrate or catalyst for sulphide nucleation, (c) the scavenging of PGE by sulphide droplets from fresh magma continuously brought towards the base by convection. Since the rate of magma convection is 105–107 times higher than that of the solidification (km/year to km/day versus 0.5–1.0 cm/year), the in situ formed sulphide droplets can equilibrate with picritic magma of thousands to million times their own volume. As a result, the sulphide-bearing rocks are able to reach economic concentrations of PGE (several ppm). We tentatively suggest that the basic principles of our model may be used to explain the origin of PGE-rich chromitites and classical PGE reefs in other layered mafic–ultramafic intrusions.


Chromitite seams Sulphide liquid Platinum-group elements In situ growth Convection Layered intrusions 

Supplementary material

410_2013_876_MOESM1_ESM.xls (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 32 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rais Latypov
    • 1
  • Brian O’Driscoll
    • 2
  • Andrey Lavrenchuk
    • 3
  1. 1.School of GeosciencesUniversity of WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Physical and Geographical SciencesKeele UniversityKeeleUK
  3. 3.Institute of Geology and Mineralogy SB RASNovosibirskRussia