Tumulak, Mark Lean P.


Magmatic sulfide deposits are sulfide mineral concentrations in mafic and ultramafic rocks derived from immiscible sulfide liquids.

The similarity of these deposits result, in part, from similar genesis. Exsolution of immiscible sulfide liquids from mafic-toultramafic magmas is the fundamental process that forms magmatic sulfide deposits. Once formed, droplets of immiscible sulfide liquid settle through less dense silicate magma.

The sulfide liquid acts as a "collector" for cobalt, copper, nickel, and platinum-group elements (PGE) because these elements are preferentially concentrated in sulfide liquids at levels 10 to 100,000 times those in silicate liquids. To a lesser degree, iron is also preferentially partitioned into the sulfide liquid and, because of its greater abundance, most immiscible sulfide liquid is iron-rich.

The combination of physically concentrating dense sulfide liquid and chemically concentrating elements in the sulfide liquid is responsible for forming most economically minable, magmatic-sulfide deposits. Magmatic sulfide ore is typically associated with: (1) abrupt variations in the cumulus-mineral succession, including major lithologic changes, reversals or changes in crystallization order, discontinuities in mineral fractionation patterns and cyclic units,

. and texture. mineralogy. However. and (to a much lesser extent) sulfide mineral composition. the abundance and types of sulfide minerals. the principal variables are the composition of the host rocks. (3) rocks near the base of a flow. or (4) pegmatoids and rocks enriched in minerals that crystallize late from silicate magmas. for the purposes of developing a geoenvironmental model for this group of deposits.(2) rocks near the lower contact of an intrusion that may contain country rock xenoliths and may be characterized by irregular variations in grain size.


Ontario. 1993). Talnakh. Crystal Lake Gabbro. Big Indian Pond. Vaaralampi deposit. La Perouse Intrusion. 1989) Duluth Cu-Ni-PGE (Model 5a)-Dunka Road deposit. Stillwater Complex. Great Lakes nickel deposit. Canada (Eckstrand and others.. Alaska.EXAMPLES       Magmatic sulfide minerals concentrated near the margins of intrusions: Stillwater nickel-copper (Model 1)-Mouat deposit. Russia Impact-related intrusions-Sudbury Complex. Moxie intrusion. 1989) Synorogenic-synvolcanic Ni-Cu (Model 7a)-Brady Glacier deposit. Mont. Canada . Minn. Duluth Complex. Finland (Alapieti and others. Noril'sk and Oktybr'sky deposit. Suhanho-Konttijarvi intrusion. Maine Noril'sk Cu-Ni-PGE (Model 5b)Medvezhy Creek deposit. (Zientek.

(Todd and others. 1987). J-M Reef. Stillwater Complex. Stillwater Complex. 1982)  Magmatic sulfide mineral and PGE concentrations at or below impermeable layers: No model-Picket Pin deposit. Republic of South Africa (Naldrett and others.  .Stratiform concentrations of disseminated magmatic sulfide minerals in layered intrusions: Merensky Reef PGE (Model 2b)-Merensky Reef. Mont. (Boudreau and McCallum. Mont. Bushveld Complex.

   Pegmatoidal lenses. 1984) Magmatic sulfide minerals concentrated in ultramafic volcanic rocks: Komatiitic Ni-Cu (Model 6a)-Kambalda deposits. Philippines. Australia Magmatic sulfide minerals concentrated in ultramafic cumulates in ophiolite complexes: No model-Acoje. Bushveld Complex. Stillwater Complex. Australia Dunitic Ni-Cu (Model 6b)-Mount Keith deposit. Mont. Albania . Republic of South Africa (Vermaak. pipes. 1976). and other discordant mineralization: No model-Vlakfontein nickel pipes. Janet 50 zone. (Volborth and Housley. Kraste.


Occasionally significant ore is in footwall country rocks of diverse metasedimentary or metaigneous origin and composition .HOST ROCK Host rocks are predominantly mafic to ultramafic igneous rocks.

and (4) passively rifted. (2) ophiolite complexes that formed at constructive plate margins.SURROUNDING GEOLOGIC Deposits TERRANE are in diverse geologic settings. . including (1) deformed greenstone belts and calc-alkaline batholiths associated with convergent plate margins. continental margins. (3) intraplate magmatic provinces associated with flood-basalt type magmatism.

A hydrothermal sulfide deposit and a 360°C black smoker vent driven by magmatic activity in the Logatchev hydrothermal field. .

. Many deposits and host rocks have experienced varying amounts of alteration either as a result of deuteric processes. orthopyroxene.  Trace amounts of quartz. and potassium feldspar may be present. and olivine. alteration involves development of hydrous phases. metamorphism. clinopyroxene. In most cases. Primary silicate mineralogy consists of varying proportions of calcic plagioclase. or weathering.WALL-ROCK ALTERATION Hydrothermal alteration related to ore-forming processes is generally not significant for magmatic sulfide deposits. apatite.  Brown amphibole and biotite may be minor accessory phases.

talc.  Biotite is altered to chlorite. Systematic alteration zoning may be developed adjacent to faults or fractures that focus fluid flow. alteration of plagioclase and pyroxene is somewhat less likely. .clay minerals. serpentine. Plagioclase is altered to epidote. and calcite. magnetite. and minor calcite.  Pyroxenes are altered to actinolite/tremolite. sericite.  Olivine is typically altered to serpentine minerals.  Olivine is the phase most likely to be altered. and chlorite.

pegmatoids. 1) or may be in zones where silicate magma interacted with xenoliths. cumulate sequences may be related to major lithologic features such as cyclic-unit boundaries.NATURE OF ORE  Sulfide minerals may be concentrated in structurally low areas at the base of intrusions or flows (fig. unconformities. chromite seams. . Sulfide mineral concentrations in layered. or stratigraphic intervals characterized by major changes or discontinuities in cumulus minerals.

Sulfide-mineral assemblages that appear to have precipitated from fluids moving through fault zones or along joint surfaces are dominated by pyrite. . Remobilized sulfide-mineral assemblages may be copper-rich relative to sulfide mineral assemblages that are not remobilized. cleavage planes. and veins. Deformation and alteration can remobilize sulfide minerals into breccia ore and segregate sulfide minerals into fractures.


These three minerals are the principal acid generating phases in magmatic sulfide deposits and their proportions are determined by the initial bulk composition of the immiscible sulfide liquid. pentlandite. dominated by pyrrhotite. . and chalcopyrite. The sulfide mineral content of these ore deposits varies from less than ten to more than sixty percent. result from solid-state recrystallization of high-temperature sulfide minerals.Ore and Gangue mineralogy and Zonation  Sulfide-mineral ore assemblages.

and alloy minerals). tremolite. antimonide. arsenide. calcite. secondary phases include serpentine minerals. and clay minerals.and cobaltbearing arsenide minerals (for example gersdorffite). sphalerite. telluride.  . Gangue mineralogy is the same as that of the host and consists primarily of plagioclase. sericite. and lead telluride minerals. and olivine. nickel. orthopyroxene. Minor. chlorite. Magnetite is commonly intergrown with the sulfide minerals. magnetite. galena. talc. clinopyroxene. Minor phases include platinum-groupelement minerals (sulfide. actinolite. silver. and gold. epidote.

nickel. and copper phases are commonly intimately intergrown. either as an ironnickel-rich or an iron-copper-rich solid solution and continuing solid-state transformation and recrystallization. Iron. .Mineral Characteristics  The mineralogy and textures of sulfide ore record a prolonged and complex process starting with solidification of the sulfide liquid. these textures can be substantially modified by alteration and weathering.

In rocks containing 10 to 60 volume percent sulfide minerals (matrix ore). In rocks with more than 60 volume percent sulfide minerals (massive ore). the textures of silicate and sulfide minerals record the distribution and abundance of the sulfide liquids and the interaction between solid silicate minerals and molten sulfide liquid. sulfide minerals form fine ( <1 mm). In rocks with less than 10 volume percent sulfide minerals (disseminated ore). sulfide minerals form the matrix of the rock. . When not modified by weathering or alteration. aggregates of sulfide minerals are interstitial to earlier-formed silicate minerals but are interconnected. rounded aggregates enclosed in cumulus coarse-grained ( >5 mm) dropletshaped aggregates that are molded around and interstitial to the cumulus or earlier-formed silicate minerals or may be present as fine-grained.

. Consequently. the molecular-metalsulfur ratio of magmatic sulfide minerals is relatively constant at about 1:1. pyrite has a metal-sulfur ratio of 1:2. Therefore. plus copper and nickel. magmatic sulfide ore has a much more restricted acid-generating capacity than ore that contains substantial pyrite. In contrast. The bulk sulfur content of sulfide-mineral aggregates is between 34 and 40 weight percent. the remaining 60 to 66 weight percent is mostly iron.

chalcocite. troilite. malachite. millerite. bornite. smythite. cubanite. and magnetite. Gossans commonly form above sulfide-rich rocks. nickel-iron carbonate. vaesite. marcasite. and nickel-silicate minerals may form. polydymite.and nickel-iron hydroxycarbonate. pyrite. In supergene environments. . nickel. native copper. hematite. mackinawite. cuprite.SECONDARY MINERALS Minerals that may form during alteration and weathering of sulfide minerals include violarite.

PHYSIOGRAPHY Magmatic-sulfide deposits do not have diagnostic topographic or physiographic characteristics.TOPOGRAPHY. .

Many HYDROLOGY deposits form stratiform sheets and lenses. . near the bottoms of intrusions or flows. no known consistent relation between magmatic sulfide ore and hydrologic controls are known. that could localize ground water flow. However.

.5 cm across) gabbro with intercumulate metallic sulfides .. .Ore Deposits of the PlatinumGroup Elements Nickel ore (~5.

as near contacts between serpentinite bodies and igneous masses emplaced into serpentinite.Serpentine and Carbonate-hosted Asbestos Deposit The term asbestos as used in this discussion is a collective term applied by mineralogists to certain fibrous minerals and not to other mineral species that are called asbestos in common parlance. Minor asbestos veins are present in unaltered ultramafic rocks adjacent to serpentinite. notably near changes in rock competency. The veins commonly fill fractures developed in shear zones.  . The particular asbestos mineral that is the focus of this discussion is chrysotile. Protoliths include ophiolite and stratiform complexes.  Serpentine-hosted asbestos: Chrysotile (white asbestos) forms veins in serpentinized ultramafic rocks.

sheets. Asbestos veins filled fractures incrementally during dilation caused by the diabase intrusion. Carbonate-hosted asbestos: Veins of cross-fiber chrysotile asbestos are in tabular masses of serpentinite that replaced metalimestone during contact metamorphism related to intrusion of diabase sills. . and dikes. The metalimestone developed from a cherty dolostone protolith early in the metamorphic event.

Chrysotile asbestos .

1994. Virta and Mann. 1994). Carbonate-hosted: Gila County. Troodos Complex. Anhaeusser. 1959.Thetford Mines. South Africa (Sinclair. in press). (an extension of the Quebec deposits) (Chidester and others. (Shride. Quebec. Balangero. and Asbestos-Shipton areas. 1959). British Colombia. (Rice. 1986. . China (Sinclair. 1994). 1986).Bazhenovo district. 1959. 1969. Barberton area. Laiynan district. Hobei Province. Virta and Mann. 1994). Shabani. Italy (Virta and Mann. White Bay area. 1973). Calif. Cyprus (Virta and Mann. Ariz. South Africa (Sinclair. 1978).Belvidere Mountain. 1994). Anhaeusser. 1966. United States. Barberton-Caroline district and near Kanye. Cassair. Africa and Europe. Zimbabwe (Anhaeusser. Calaveras and San Benito Counties. Russia (Virta and Mann. Black Lake. Virta and Mann. 1957.EXAMPLES Serpentine-hosted: Canada. Newfoundland (Riordon. Vt. 1994). Coleman. central Ural Mountains. 1986).

The deposit is now closed and is used as an asbestos waste dump. and Resources Canada. The Bazhenovo district of Russia may contain larger deposits. 1976).36 million tonnes of asbestos annually in the early 1980s (Mann. Calif. Production of chrysotile from the New Idria serpentinite in San Benito County. Calif. The mine was an open pit 600 m across in 1983 (Mann. 1966). Serpentine-hosted deposits commonly contain hundreds of million tonnes of ore. . In the 1950s the asbestos deposit at the Jeffrey Mine in Quebec had ore reserves as large as 450 million tonnes (Shride. are reported to be about 1. Calaveras County. had the capacity to produce 544. 1973). this mine. By the mid 1970s.).2 million tonnes (Rice. 1983). 1983). that of the King City Asbestos Corporation (KCAC.DEPOSIT SIZE Deposit size varies from large in serpentine-hosted deposits to small in carbonate-hosted deposits. Inc.000 tonnes of asbestos fiber a year (Energy. Mines.. (the largest asbestos deposit in the United States) is now confined to one property. Reserves of chrysotile fiber at the asbestos deposit near Copperopolis. which at that time was the largest known asbestos deposit in the world. This district had the capacity to produce at least 1.

. This particular sample contains both crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos mineral fibers.Specimen of greenish massive serpentine with several veins of silky chrysotile asbestos throughout.

that has largely replaced the host ultramafic protolith.Serpentine-hosted deposits: These deposits are in massive serpentinite. In Arizona. the serpentinite bodies commonly are 1 to 3 m thick. HOST ROCK Carbonate-hosted deposits: Serpentinite in these deposits has replaced metalimestone or dolostone. and are structureless. commonly highly sheared and widely exposed. . except for asbestos veins. are present at a few stratigraphic intervals in the host metalimestone section. Associated ultramafic rocks locally host asbestos veins.

. quartzite. greenstone. which hosts the KCAC asbestos deposit and others. is completely separated from mafic oceanic crust and is surrounded by sedimentary rocks of the Cretaceous Franciscan and Panoche Formations. cherty dolostone. sheeted dikes. . arkosic arenite. including schist. which are composed of oceanic crustal fragments consisting of a basal peridotite (that becomes serpentinized) overlain in sequence by cumulate gabbro. Calif. commonly capped by deep oceanic pelagic strata. Accreted ophiolite commonly is dismembered into structurally complicated fragments.Surrounding geologic terrane Serpentine-hosted deposits: Most of these deposits have developed in ophiolite complexes. Carbonate-hosted deposits: Deposits of this type in Arizona are in Middle Proterozoic rocks that include siltstone. and amphibolite. and pillow basalt. these rocks are associated with metamorphosed sedimentary and igneous rocks. of early Paleozoic age. These rocks are folded with unconformably overlying Tertiary marine sedimentary rocks. The New Idria serpentinite. In Quebec and New England.

Serpentinization releases calcium that becomes available for secondary minerals.WALL-ROCK ALTERATION Serpentinization of host rocks and subsequent serpentinite alteration are common kinds of wallrock alteration associated with asbestos. when not incorporated into serpentinite. 1993). which are unstable in the presence of water at crustal temperatures (Coleman. For example. Reactions with water can bewritten: 1) 3Mg Si O (pyroxene) + 4H O = 2Mg Si O (OH) (serpentine) + 2SiO (quartz) 2) 2Mg SiO (olivine) + 3H O = Mg Si O (OH) (serpentine) + Mg(OH) (brucite) Reaction 1 produces weathering-resistant silica-bearing serpentinite that forms pinnacles. 1978). Subsequent serpentine alteration proceeds as outlined for serpentinite-hosted deposits. In serpentine-hosted deposits. Iron in the primary silicate minerals. olivine. serpentinite results from hydration of igneous protoliths. common in the New Idria serpentinite. With increasing metamorphic temperature. Late stage serpentinization of carbonate-hosted deposits follows dedolomitization and development of calcium-magnesium silicate minerals during contact metamorphism. by dehydration. . 1993). and quartz-carbonate bodies (Chidester and others. talc-carbonate rocks.. 1971. Common alteration products in metamorphosed serpentinites of Quebec and Vermont are talc in steatite and schistose masses. lizardite of the original serpentinite is replaced by antigorite. to talc. written commun. commonly harzburgite and dunite. may form magnetite. the mineralogical nature of the New Idria serpentinite probably is related to the relative amounts of orthopyroxene and olivine in the primary peridotite. whereas reaction 2 produces predominantly highly weathered and rounded boulders and fine soil-like material (Malcolm Ross. Coleman and Jove. 1995). and water (Coleman and Jove. which at higher temperatures is converted.

anastomose. ore is in sheared and pulverized serpentinite and consists of flake-like agglomerates and sheet-like masses of finely matted chrysotile (Mumpton and Thompson. Asbestos contents vary widely in the serpentine-hosted deposit type. veins are composed of multiple parallel layers in which the fibers are oriented about at right angles to vein walls and aggregate 1 to 20 cm in width. multiple layers indicate incremental development. 1969. Otton and others. In the New Idria serpentinite. 1981). In a few deposits. 1975). Veins pinch and swell. However. Chrysotile veins locally are in fine-grained calcsilicate rocks developed from cherty dolomite. Carbonate-hosted deposits: Ore zones consist of sets of cross-fiber veins subparallel to bedding in the serpentinized host.NATURE OF ORE  Serpentine-hosted deposits: These deposits commonly consist of stockworks (networks of veins) of cross-fiber veins that are aggregates of two or more thin parallel layers of fibers oriented about normal to vein walls. Commonly. Most deposits contain some slip-fiber veins composed of fibers in the plane of the fracture. Productive zones may be 10 cm to a few decimeters thick and constitute as much as 40 volume percent of a serpentinite body (Shride. this is the principal fiber type. barren serpentinite. asbestos veins commonly are contained in much greater thicknesses of massive. Much of this ore may be secondary (see section below entitled "Secondary mineralogy").  . and vary in dip.

In serpentine. 1957). Serpentinite-hosted deposits contain magnetite in the serpentine gangue and locally talc. in partings between layers of multiple veins. in press). the only ore mineral is chrysotile. 1957). along vein walls. and can be disseminated parallel to chrysotile fibers (Riordon. In Canadian deposits. as well as quartz-calcite veins (Riordon. and magnetite are common in serpentine of the New Idria body (Coleman. ORE AND GANGUE MINERALOGY AND ZONATION . Chrysotile. magnetite commonly is concentrated in wall rock adjacent to asbestos veins. brucite. otherwise the gangue is serpentine. Carbonate-hosted deposits may include sparse calcite veins.and carbonate-hosted deposits.

1984). 1988). and sodium also may be present (Ross and others. The other five asbestos minerals belong to the amphibole group. these are grunerite asbestos (commonly referred to as amosite). calcium. Most chrysotile contains less than 2 weight percent iron as FeO. anthophyllite asbestos. hardness. Vein fibers range in length from less than 5 μm to 10 cm or more.Mineral Characteristics  Chrysotile is one of six mineral species called asbestos because of their fibrous habit (Skinner and others. manganese. though as much as 8 percent has been reported (Wicks and O'Hanley. tensile strength. Chrysotile (Mg Si O (OH) ) consists 3 2 5 4 of layers of linked SiO tetrahedra and misfit layers of linked MgO (OH) tetrahedra that together roll into sheets.  . and actinolite asbestos. 4 2 4 making hollow tubes having diameters of about 25 nm (Ross. Small amounts of aluminum. and other physical properties and chemical properties of importance in determining their commercial use (Shride. 1981). Of these. 1988). 1973). riebeckite asbestos (commonly referred to as crocidolite). tremolite asbestos. magnesium. chrysotile is the only fibrous serpentine mineral. potassium. They can vary in flexibility.

Calif. 1995). 1995). studies in California show that they are unstable in the range of pH and Mg2+ and Si(OH) concentrations encountered in most soil (Mumpton and Thompson. Wildman and others. Deeply weathered serpentinite can produce the nickel-bearing minerals nepouite and pecoraite (Mumpton and Thompson. and Balangero. compositionally similar pyroaurtite (Mumpton and Thompson. deposits (Coleman. can be fibrous and is associated with chrysotile deposits. an amphibole. 1993). The amount and distribution of tremolite asbestos in chrysotile deposits is poorly known. hydromagnesite. one of the hydrothermal minerals that develops during serpentinization and makes up 7 to 8 volume percent of the New Idria serpentinite. Tremolite. Brucite (Mg(OH) ). Quebec. Coleman.and magnesium-bearing carbonate). 1966. and it makes up less than one volume percent of the dust . Cyprus. It is extremely scarce in the New Idria.Secondary Mineralogy Although serpentine minerals are considered to be stable in the upper crust (Coleman and Jove. is destroyed in the weathering zone.. 1971). The EPA classifies tremolite as asbestos if the particles have an aspect ratio of 3:1. producing coalingite (an iron. but most serpentine contains only very small amounts of nickel. particularly at Thetford Mines.. Iron-rich montmorillonite is a common product of serpentine in this soil type (Wildman and others. and secondary chrysotile (Mumpton and Thompson. written commun. 1975). Some chrysotile is developed during tectonic milling and may be the most important process in the formation of chrysotile at the New Idria deposit (R. Troodos. Coleman.G.. written commun.G. 1975). in press). 1971). Italy (R. 1966).

protected by the more resistant. which reduces exposure of serpentinite and chrysotile to erosion. Physiography Serpentine-hosted deposits: These deposits are easily eroded. occupies a high ridge. overlying metalimestone beds. The asbestos deposit at Belvidere Mountain. these zones commonly are exposed in cliffs and steep slopes. that includes rock exposures barren of vegetation. However. 1951). Evidence of contact dislocation shows that this serpentinite body is rising tectonically..Topography. Calif. exposing this soft material to long term erosion (Coleman. in press). Serpentinite bodies commonly are well exposed and therefore are readily eroded. . is on a hillside in an area having relief of 200 m in a radius of 1. Vt. as illustrated in Mumpton and Thompson (1975). Carbonate-hosted deposits: Chrysotile-bearing serpentinite zones in Arizona are soft and weakly resistant to weathering. The New Idria serpentinite body in San Benito County.6 km (Chidester and others..

particularly serpentinite derived from ultramafic rocks. 1975).Potential Environmental Considerations  (1) Most natural exposures of asbestos-bearing rock. Calif. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However. (4) Waste generated from asbestos mining and milling operations exposes asbestos to erosion by natural agents. exceeds the area disturbed by the three largest asbestos mines in this area (Woodward-Clyde Associates. in press). The California Air Resources Board considers asbestos contents of mine waste greater than 5 volume percent as a potential toxic hazard (Resolution 91-27. The U. Coleman. adding it to dust or making it readily available to surface drainage. roads also produce channels that aid run-off. 4-34). some serpentinite bodies are highly resistant to erosion. 1985. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers mine waste that contains more than 1 volume percent asbestos hazardous (Derkies. p. 1989). highly fractured rock. (6) Chrysotile deposits may contain small amounts of fibrous tremolite. (2) Sedimentary deposits and debris slides derived from asbestos-bearing rocks provide asbestos for redistribution by water and wind. April 1990).. the EPA has concluded that ingestion of asbestos fibers poses no significant cancer risk (U.      . water in the California Aqueduct System contains asbestos (Kanarek and others. which is classifiable by EPA as asbestos and a risk to human health (U.S. are readily eroded by natural agents and the activities of man because most serpentinite is composed of weak.S. (5) Asbestos fibers can be incorporated by surface drainage in areas of asbestos-bearing rocks and mines. Environmental Protection Agency. 1980. (3) Vehicles driven across serpentinite and mine waste can dislodge asbestos. however.S. 1991). In central California. The surface area of roads in the southern half of the chrysotile-bearing New Idria serpentinite in San Benito County.

Ore is crushed. and dried. Milling generally is a dry process and follows practices used. 1990). classified. room and pillar methods. 1955). Block caving and other underground methods have been used. 1976. then removing the fibers by screening and air separation (Bowles. Milling of chrysotile ore in Arizona was stopped by court order in 1974. Carbonate-hosted deposits: Chrysotile mining in Arizona has been by small-scale underground methods using adits. and Resources Canada. Most producers grade and classify milled asbestos fibers as a function of fiber length. mine in San Benito County. A wet process for milling chrysotile was installed in 1990 at the Baie Verte Mines in Newfoundland (Stewart and others. slightly modified. beating it to free the fibers. since the early days of this century (Mann. screened. Mann. which makes it possible to handle asbestos in a nearly dust-free environment. Waste rock and unwanted fibers  . Impurities are collected in a thickener and pumped to tailings dumps. (Virta. Drying is accomplished using hot air. Calif. then dried in a propane-fired dryer. In this process.1991). A wet process was used in 1991 at the KCAC Inc. using a standard developed in Canada (Energy. which is filtered after the fibers are dried. 1983). Processing and packaging methods have improved significantly in recent years. Mines. 1983). mill feed is wet screened. The milling process consisted of crushing the ore. and stoping with backfill.Mining and Milling Methods  Serpentine-hosted deposits: Exploitation of these deposits is mostly by open-pit mining.