The miaskitic-to-agpaitic transition in peralkaline nepheline syenite (white foyaite) from the Pilanesberg Complex, South Africa

Tom Andersen*, Marlina Elburg, Muriel Erambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The Mesoproterozoic Pilanesberg Complex, South Africa, is built up by several distinct, ring-shaped intrusions of syenite and peralkaline nepheline syenite. A mildly peralkaline ((Na + K) / Al = 1.04–1.09), medium-to coarse grained nepheline syenite makes up the outermost ring in the southwestern part of the complex ("Matooster type white foyaite"). In this rock, mafic silicate minerals (amphibole, biotite, aegirine) and Ti-bearing minerals (ilmenite, astrophyllite, aenigmatite, lorenzenite, bafertisite, jinshajiangite) are interstitial to feldspar and nepheline, and define a series of mineral assemblages reflecting a change from a miaskitic crystallization regime (with Na-Ca amphibole, titanite and ilmenite) to increasingly agpaitic conditions (with arfvedsonite, aegirine, astrophyllite, aenigmatite, lorenzenite). The main driving force behind the evolution was an increase in peralkalinity of the trapped liquid, mainly by adcumulus growth of alkali feldspar and nepheline, which in the later stages of evolution was combined with increases in oxygen fugacity and water activity. Unlike in most other agpaitic rock complexes, Zr remained compatible in aegirine (and to some extent in amphibole) almost to the end of the process, when a hydrous zirconium silicate mineral (hilairite) crystallized as the only mineral in the rock having essential zirconium. The presence of minerals such as hilairite, bafertisite, jinshajiangite and a Na-REE-Sr rich apatite group mineral (fluorcaphite ?) in the latest assemblages suggests that the last remaining interstitial melt or fluid approached a hyperagpaitic composition. The isolated melt pockets in the Pilanesberg white foyaite follow a pattern of evolution that can be seen as a miniature analogue of the fractional crystallization processes controlling magma evolution in large, alkaline igneous rock complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Nepheline syenite
  • Peralkaline rocks
  • Agpaitic rocks
  • Aenigmatite
  • Astrophyllite
  • Lorenzenite


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