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Magnetite layer formation in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa

Jan 25, 2022  

Title: Magnetite layer formation in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa

Authors: Zhuosen Yao, James E Mungall

Source: Nature Communications, volume 13, article number: 416 (2022)

Published: 20 January 2022

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28000-9



The great economic significance of layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions like the Bushveld Complex of South Africa results from the existence within them of some layers highly concentrated in valuable elements. Here we address the origins of the Main Magnetite Layer, a globally important resource of Fe-Ti-V-rich magnetite. Previous models of in situ fractional magnetite crystallization require frequent ad hoc adjustments to the boundary conditions. An alternative model incorporating compositional convection near the top of the pile and infiltration of the pile from beneath by migrating intercumulus melt fits observations without any adjustments. Lateral variations in Cr concentration formerly held as indisputable evidence for in situ crystallization can be accommodated better by models of reactive melt infiltration from below. The choice of models has pivotal ramifications for understanding of the fundamental processes by which crystals accumulate and layers form in layered intrusions.

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