Platinum-group element abundances in the upper mantle: New constraints from in situ and whole-rock analyses of massif central xenoliths (France)

Jean Pierre Lorand*, Olivier Alard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Citations (Scopus)


Fourteen peridotite xenoliths collected in the Massif Central neogene volcanic province (France) have been analyzed for platinum-group elements (PGE), Au, Cu, S, and Se. Their total PGE contents range between 3 and 30 ppb and their PGE relative abundances from 0.01 to 0.001 x CI-chondrites, respectively. Positive correlations between total PGE contents and Se suggest that all of the PGE are hosted mainly in base metal sulfides (monosulfide solid solution [Mss], pentlandite, and Cu-rich sulfides [chalcopyrite/isocubanite]). Laser ablation microprobe-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analyses support this conclusion while suggesting that, as observed in experiments on the Cu-Fe-Ni-S system, the Mss preferentially accommodate refractory PGEs (Os, Ir, Ru, and Rh) and Cu-rich sulfides concentrate Pd and Au. Poikiloblastic peridotites pervasively percolated by large silicate melt fractions at high temperature (1200°C) display the lowest Se (<2.3 ppb) and the lowest PGE contents (0.001 x CI-chondrites). In these rocks, the total PGE budget inherited from the primitive mantle was reduced by 80%, probably because intergranular sulfides were completely removed by the silicate melt. In contrast, protogranular peridotites metasomatized by small fractions of volatile-rich melts are enriched in Pt, Pd, and Au and display suprachondritic Pd/Ir ratios (1.9). The palladium-group PGE (PPGE) enrichment is consistent with precipitation of Cu-Ni-rich sulfides from the metasomatic melts. In spite of strong light rare earth element (LREE) enrichments (Ce/YbN <10), the three harzburgites analyzed still display chondrite-normalized PGE patterns typical of partial melting residues, i.e., depleted in Pd and Pt relative to Ir and Ru. Likewise, coarse-granular Iherzolites, a common rock type in Massif Central xenoliths, display Pd/Ir, Ru/Ir, Rh/Ir, and Pt/Ir within the 15% uncertainty range of chondritic meteorites. These rocks do not contradict the late-veneer hypothesis that ascribes the PGE budget of the Earth to a late-accreting chondritic component; however, speculations about this component from the Pd/Ir and Pt/Ir ratios of basalt-borne xenoliths may be premature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2789-2806
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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