Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 44–61 | Cite as

The concentrations of the noble metals in Southern African flood-type basalts and MORB: implications for petrogenesis and magmatic sulphide exploration

  • Wolfgang D. MaierEmail author
  • Sarah-Jane Barnes
  • Julian S. Marsh
Original Paper


Concentrations of the platinum-group elements have been determined in several suites of southern African flood-type basalts and mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB), covering some 3 Ga of geologic evolution and including the Etendeka, Karoo, Soutpansberg, Machadodorp, Hekpoort, Ventersdorp and Dominion magmas. The magmas cover a compositional range from 3.7 to 18.7% MgO, 26–720 ppm Ni, 16–250 ppm Cu, and <1–255 ppb total platinum-group elements (PGE). The younger basalts (Etendeka, Karoo) tend to be depleted in PGE relative to Cu, while most of the older basalts (Hekpoort, Machadodorp, Ventersdorp, Dominion) show no PGE depletion relative to Cu. Further, the younger basalts tend to have lower average Pt/Pd ratios than the older basalts, and the MORBs have lower average Pt/Pd than the continental basalts within the broad groupings of "old" and "young" basalts. This may reflect (1) a decreasing degree of mantle melting through geologic time, and (2) source heterogeneity, in that the MORBs are derived from predominantly asthenospheric mantle, whereas the continental basalts also contain a lithospheric mantle component enriched in Pt. In addition to these factors, some PGE fractionation also occurred during differentiation of the magmas, with Pd showing incompatible behaviour and the other PGE variably compatible behaviour. The examined southern African flood-type basalts and MORB appear to offer limited prospects for magmatic sulfide ores, largely because they show little evidence for significant chalcophile metal depletion that could be the result of sulphide extraction during ascent and crystallization.


Lithospheric Mantle Picrite Kaapvaal Craton Continental Basalt Transvaal Supergroup 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Funding for this project was provided by grants from the Centre for Research on Magmatic Ore Deposits (to W.D.M.), the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (to S-J.B.), and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (to J.S.M.) CERMOD is supported by Anglo American Base Metals, Impala Platinum, Falconbridge Ventures of Africa, and Avmin. We are grateful to A. Bumby who provided the samples from the Soutpansberg suite.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang D. Maier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah-Jane Barnes
    • 2
  • Julian S. Marsh
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Research on Magmatic Ore Deposits, Department of GeologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoria South Africa
  2. 2.Sciences de la TerreUniversité du QuébecChicoutimi Canada
  3. 3.Department of GeologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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