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Fractionation of platinum, palladium, nickel, and copper in sulfide–arsenide systems at magmatic temperature

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Abstract

Experimentally derived phase relations of arsenide in sulfide melt are presented to quantify the fractionation paths of As-bearing sulfide melts. When a natural sulfide melt reaches arsenide saturation, a separate Ni–PGE-rich arsenide melt exsolves. The arsenic saturation concentration in an Fe–Ni–Cu sulfide melt is between 0.5 and 1.5 wt%. The affinities of the chalcophile metals for an immiscible arsenide melt follow the order Pt > Pd > Ni ≫ Fe ≈ Cu. In natural systems, arsenide exsolution will be triggered by the activity of the nickel arsenide components dissolved in sulfide melt, Ni being the most common base metal with strong affinity to the Asn− anionic species. Arsenic may have a major effect on the fractionation paths of sulfide melts even if no separate arsenide phase forms. Arsenic, and probably many other chalcogens and metalloids in magmatic melts, may undergo associations with Pt and Pd well before discrete PGE minerals become stable phases.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Alex Heuser for setting up many analytical routines for the laser-ablation laboratory, Nils Jung for preparing the polished sections, and the workshop staff for maintaining the experimental laboratories in excellent condition. Frank Melcher contributed numerous unpublished analyses of PGE phases to Fig. 1. Ruben Piña and Fernando Gervilla generously shared unpublished analytical data from natural sulfide–arsenide deposits. These colleagues, as well as Marian Tredoux, Andrew Tomkins, and two anonymous journal reviewers commented on various aspects of this work and greatly helped improve the manuscript. Funding by the Alexander von Humboldt Society to HMH and by the DFG to CB and ROCF is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to H. M. Helmy.

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Helmy, H.M., Ballhaus, C., Fonseca, R.O.C. et al. Fractionation of platinum, palladium, nickel, and copper in sulfide–arsenide systems at magmatic temperature. Contrib Mineral Petrol 166, 1725–1737 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00410-013-0951-9

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