- Stillwater igneous complex
The Stillwater igneous complex is a large ultramafic to mafic layered intrusion located in southern
Montanain Stillwater, Sweet Grass and Park Counties. The complex is exposed across 30 miles (48 km) of the north flank of the Beartooth Mountain Range. The complex has extensive reserves of chromium oreand has a history of chromium production. More recent mining activity has produced palladiumand other platinum group elements.The Stillwater Complex: A review of the geology by I. S. McCallum http://serc.carleton.edu/files/NAGTWorkshops/petrology03/McCallum.Stillwater.doc ]
The Stillwater complex is a large layered
intrusionwith many similarities to the Bushveld igneous complexof South Africa. The complex was intruded into existing gneisses during the Archeanat about 2700 Mya. [American Mineralogist, Volume 75, pages 37-45, 1990 The Stillwater Complex and its anorthosites: An accident of magmatic underplating? GERALD K. CZAMANSKE, STEVEN R. BOHLEN http://www.minsocam.org/ammin/AM75/AM75_37.pdf] The region was subsequently intruded by a quartz monzonitestocks and underwent extensive metamorphism, faulting and folding during the Archean at about 2500 Mya. The area was intruded by north trending maficdikes before being unconformably covered by a middle- Cambrian sedimentary rocksequence.Jackson, Everett D., "The Chromite Deposits of the Stillwater Complex, Montana" in "Ore Deposites of the Unitrd States, 1933-1967 (The Graton-Sales Volume)" Vol. 2, pp. 1495-1509, 1968] The intrusion forms a linear body stretching some 30 miles (48 km) and striking roughly N 60 °W and dipping from 50° to near 90° to the northeast. The exposed thickness is around 18,000 feet (5500 m) with an additional extimated 5000 to 15,000 feet having been removed from the top by pre-Cambrian erosion. Stanton, R. L., 1972, "Ore Petrology", Ch 11 "Ores of Mafic and Ultramafic Association", pp. 305-351, McGraw Hill]
The cumulate stratigraphy comprises three distinct zones:
*The basal zone consists of a chilled fine grained
gabbrooverlain by gabbro, noriteand feldspar pyroxenites. Thickness up to 700 feet (210 m).
*The ultramafic zone is composed of a lower
peridotitemember consisting of alternating dunite, chromitite, harzburgiteand bronzite pyroxenite. The upper third is massive bronzite pyroxenite. The ultramafic zone averages around 3500 feet (1100 m) in thichness.
*The banded zone is composed of alternating norite, gabbro and
anorthosite. The banded zone has a maximum thickness of 14,000 feet (4300 m).
The chromium orebodies are restricted to the peridotite member of the ultramafic zone. The platinum group orebodies are located in the lower part of the banded zone within a horizon referred to as the J-M reef.
The J-M Reef is similar to the
Merensky Reefof the Bushveld complexof South Africa. It is a continuous layer near the base of the banded zone. It consists of one to three meter thick pegmatitic peridotite and troctolitewith disseminated sulfide minerals. Common sulfides include pyrrhotite, pentlandite(containing up to 5% Pd), and chalcopyritealong with lessor amounts of moncheite((Pt,Pd)(Te,Bi)2), cooperite((Pt,Pd,Ni)S), braggite((Pt,Pd,Ni)S), kotulskite(Pd(Te,Bi)1-2) and platinum-iron alloys. Overall the reef contains an average of 20-25 ppm platinum plus palladium in an average two meter thicknesss. It has a Pd/Pt ratio of about 3.6.
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