Trace-element fingerprints of chromite, magnetite and sulfides from the 3.1 Ga ultramafic–mafic rocks of the Nuggihalli greenstone belt, Western Dharwar craton (India)

Ria Mukherjee*, Sisir K. Mondal, José M. González-Jiménez, William L. Griffin, Norman J. Pearson, Suzanne Y. O’Reilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The 3.1 Ga Nuggihalli greenstone belt in the Western Dharwar craton is comprised of chromitite-bearing sill-like ultramafic–mafic rocks that are surrounded by metavolcanic schists (compositionally komatiitic to komatiitic basalts) and a suite of tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite gneissic rocks. The sill-like plutonic unit consists of a succession of serpentinite (after dunite)–peridotite–pyroxenite and gabbro with bands of titaniferous magnetite ore. The chromitite ore-bodies (length ≈30–500 m; width ≈2–15 m) are hosted by the serpentinite–peridotite unit. Unaltered chromites from massive chromitites (>80 % modal chromite) of the Byrapur and Bhaktarhalli chromite mines in the greenstone belt are characterized by high Cr# (100Cr/(Cr + Al)) of 78–86 and moderate Mg# (100 Mg/(Mg + Fe2+)) of 45–55. In situ trace-element analysis (LA-ICPMS) of unaltered chromites indicates that the parental magma of the chromitite ore-bodies was a komatiite lacking nickel-sulfide mineralization. In the Ga/Fe3+# versus Ti/Fe3+# diagram, the Byrapur chromites plot in the field of suprasubduction zone (SSZ) chromites while those from Bhaktarhalli lie in the MOR field. The above results corroborate our previous results based on major-element characteristics of the chromites, where the calculated parental melt of the Byrapur chromites was komatiitic to komatiitic basalt, and the Bhaktarhalli chromite was derived from Archean high-Mg basalt. The major-element chromite data hinted at the possibility of a SSZ environment existing in the Archean. Altered and compositionally zoned chromite grains in our study show a decrease in Ga, V, Co, Zn, Mn and enrichments of Ni and Ti in the ferritchromit rims. Trace-element heterogeneity in the altered chromites is attributed to serpentinization. The trace-element patterns of magnetite from the massive magnetite bands in the greenstone belt are similar to those from magmatic Fe–Ti–V-rich magnetite bands in layered intrusions, and magnetites from andesitic melts, suggesting that magnetite crystallized from an evolved gabbroic melt. Enrichments of Ni, Co, Te, As and Bi in disseminated millerite and niccolite occurring within chromitites, and in disseminated bravoite within magnetites, reflect element mobility during serpentinization. Monosulfide solid solution inclusions within pyroxenes (altered to actinolite) in pyroxenite, and interstitial pyrites and chalcopyrites in magnetite, retain primary characteristics except for Fe-enrichment in chalcopyrite, probably due to sub-solidus re-equilibration with magnetite. Disseminated sulfides are depleted in platinum-group elements (PGE) due to late sulfide saturation and the PGE-depleted nature of the mantle source of the sill-like ultramafic–mafic plutonic rocks in the Nuggihalli greenstone belt.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015

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