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Noble metal nanonugget insolubility in geological sulfide liquids

Date

2020

Authors

Anenburg, Michael
Mavrogenes, John

Journal Title

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Volume Title

Publisher

Geological Society of America Inc

Abstract

Noble metals (NMs) in Earth’s magmatic systems are thought to be controlled entirely by their strong partitioning to sulfde liquids. This chemical equilibrium is at the root of various models, ranging from NM deposit formation to planetary differentiation. Noble metals commonly occur as sub-micrometer phases known as nanonuggets. However, the assumptions that nanometer-scale thermodynamic equilibrium partitioning is attained and that NM nanonuggets are soluble in sulfde liquids have never been validated. Using novel experimental methods and analytical techniques we show nanometer-scale NM ± Bi phases attached to exterior surfaces of sulfde liquids. Larger phases (≤1 µm) show clear liquid immiscibility textures, in which Fe, Cu, and Ni partition into sulfde liquids whereas NMs partition into bismuthide liquids. Noble metal compositions of sulfdes and their associated NM phases vary between adjacent droplets, indicating NM disequilibrium in the system as a whole. We interpret most nanometer-scale NMs contained within sulfdes to be insoluble as well, suggesting that previously reported sulfde–silicate partition coeffcients are overestimated. Consequently, sulfde liquids likely play a secondary role in the formation of some NM ore deposits.

Description

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Citation

Source

Geology

Type

Journal article

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Access Statement

License Rights

DOI

10.1130/G47579.1

Restricted until

2099-12-31