2010: Chromite and platinum-group-elements mineralization in the Santa Elena ophiolitic ultramafic nappe (Costa Rica): geodynamic implications

Chromite and platinum-group-elements mineralization in the Santa Elena ophiolitic ultramafic nappe (Costa Rica): geodynamic implications

Abstract

Chromitites associated with strongly altered peridotite from six distinct localities in the Santa Elena ultramafic nappe (Costa Rica) have been investigated for the first time. Santa Elena chromitites commonly display a compositional variation from extremely chromiferous (Cr/(Cr+Al)=0.81) to intermediate and aluminous (Cr/(Cr+Al)=0.54). This composition varies along a continuous trend, corresponding to calculated parental liquids which may have been derived from the differentiation of a single batch of boninitic magma with Cr-rich and (Al, Ti)-poor initial composition. Fractional precipitation of chromite probably occurred during differentiation of the boninitic melt and progressive metasomatic reaction with mantle peridotite. The distribution of platinum group elements (PGE) displays the high (Os+Ir+Ru)/(Rh+Pt+Pd) ratio typical of ophiolitic chromitites and, consistently, the platinum group minerals (PGM) encountered are mainly Ru-Os-Ir sulfides and arsenides. Textural relations of most of the platinum group elements suggest crystallization at magmatic temperatures, possibly under relatively high sulfur fugacity as indicated by the apparent lack of primary Os-Ir-Ru alloys. The chemical and mineralogical characteristics of chromitites from the Santa Elena ultramafic nappe have a strong affinity to podiform chromitites in the mantle section of supra-subduction-zone ophiolites. Calculated parental melts of the chromitites are consistent with the differentiation of arc-related magmas, and do not support the oceanic spreading center geodynamic setting previously proposed by some authors.

Keywords: Chromitite. Santa Elena Ultramafic Nappe. Costa Rica. Chromite composition. PGE-PGM. Geodynamic setting.

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To Cite this article: Zaccarini, F., Garuti, G., Proenza, J.A., Campos, L., Thalhammer, O.A.R., Aiglsperger, T., Lewis, J. (2010): Chromite and platinum-group-elements mineralization in the Santa Elena ophiolitic ultramafic nappe (Costa Rica): geodynamic implications. Geologica Acta, 3-4, 407-423.

DOI: 10.1344/105.000001696

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