Incremental Construction of the Unit 10 Peridotite, Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion, NW Scotland

Luke Hepworth, Brian O'Driscoll, Ralf Gertisser, J Stephen Daly, C Henry Emeleus

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    The Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion (ELI) is the product of part of a ~60 Ma open-system magma chamber. The 16 coupled peridotite/troctolite ± gabbro macro-rhythmic units it contains represent crystallisation of multiple batches of basaltic and picritic magma. Within the ELI, Unit 10 has been considered the type example of batch fractionation of magma on Rum for more than 50 years, successively producing peridotite, troctolite and olivine gabbro. Detailed field observations and logs of the Unit 10 peridotite cumulate are presented here, together with mineralogical and textural analyses of Cr-spinel seams and their peridotite host rocks. Numerous harrisite layers are commonly associated with diffuse, laterally discontinuous platinum-group element (PGE) enriched Cr-spinel seams. Multiple millimetre–centimetre thick Cr-spinel seams occur at the bases, tops and within harrisite layers. These relationships are inconsistent with simple batch fractionation of magma. Critically, the harrisite layers also exhibit centimetre to metre-scale, upward oriented apophyses that point to injection of magma into the overlying cumulate, indicating an intrusive origin for the harrisite. Quantitative textural and chemical analysis suggests that the Cr-spinel seams formed via in situ crystallisation within the crystal mush together with the intrusive peridotites from an assimilation reaction between the replenishing magma and peridotitic crystal mush. Intrusive magma replenishment in Unit 10 caused significant compositional disequilibrium between the crystallising phases in response to the postcumulus migration of reactive liquid, resulting in chemical zoning of intercumulus plagioclase crystals. We propose that the Unit 10 peridotite is intrusive and that repeated small volume magma replenishments are responsible for incremental construction of a large proportion of the peridotite body, similar to recent interpretations of parts of Unit 12 and Unit 14. Moreover, it is suggested that some or all of the injections of magma occurred into the crystal mush, rather than at the magma chamber floor. This new model of intra-mush Cr-spinel formation may have significant economic implications for PGE enrichment in other layered intrusions, such as the peridotite-hosted chromitites of the Stillwater Complex Ultramafic Series (Montana, USA). It is also worth noting that thin platiniferous chromitite seams considered to have formed in situ occur below the Merensky Reef of the Bushveld Complex (South Africa).
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Petrology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017


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