Chemistry of chromium spinel in high-Mg rocks from the Morungava Intrusion, Cretaceous Paraná Igneous Province, southernmost Brazil

  • Viter Magalhães PintoEmail author
  • Hans-Joachim Massonne
  • Wilson Wildner
  • Léo Afraneo Hartmann
  • David Debruyne
  • Thomas Theye
Original Paper


Mafic-ultramafic intrusions within continental flood basalt terrains are frequently associated with Cu-Ni-PGE mineralization. This study aims to constrain the petrogenesis of early crystal phases in a promising exploration target, the Morungava mafic-ultramafic intrusion that is associated with the Paraná flood basalts. Therefore, we analyzed the composition of chromiferous spinel and associated olivine of ultramafic rocks from the sill-like intrusion. Samples were selected from different drill core intervals with high MgO and Cr contents. Two generations of Cr-spinel and olivine were identified in olivine gabbronorite and wehrlite rocks from the intrusion. The first type (Spl1) is enclosed in the core of high-Mg idiomorphic olivine crystals (Ol1) and has higher Cr2O3 (28–35 wt.%), Al2O3 (13–33 wt.%), MgO (12.6–14.6 wt.%), and lower TiO2 (0.5–0.8 wt.%) compared to the second type of spinel (Spl2). Spl2 occurs in the interstitial space between olivine and clinopyroxene and contains higher TiO2 (2.0–15.8 wt.%) and lower Al2O3 (5.2–10.5 wt.%), Cr2O3 (10–25 wt.%), and MgO (2.8–7.6 wt.%) contents. Geothermometric calculations using high-Mg idiomorphic Ol1 - Spl1 pairs resulted in temperatures below the corresponding solidus, indicating subsolidus exchange between these minerals and accounting for the Cr-Al trend in Spl1. The high Mg-contents, normal zoning and high but decreasing Cr contents in Ol1 are consistent with crystallization at an early stage during progressive fractional crystallization. Fractionation of olivine, Cr-spinel, clinopyroxene, and plagioclase deceased Mg, Al, and Cr, and increased Fe and Ti in the residual melt. The compositional hiatus with the low-Mg olivine (Ol2) and especially with Spl2 crystals most likely reflects crystallization from an evolved interstitial liquid at a time where Ol1-Spl1 were relatively isolated from diffusional interaction, in addition to solvus processes in spinel. The Fe-Ti- trend in Spl2 likely reflects varying degrees of evolution of the interstitial melts. The Morungava intrusion thus records a complex history of extensive reactions that started with fractionating Ol1-Spl1 in a magma chamber that experienced periodic magma addition, and finished in trapped, interstitial, in situ intercumulus liquids (Ol2-Spl2). The setting, host rocks, and geochemical characteristics of the Morungava intrusion are reminiscent of the Cu-Ni-PGE mineralized Noril’sk-Talnakh ultramafic complex, confirming the inferred mineralization potential.


Cr-spinel Mineral chemistry High-Mg rocks Morungava intrusion Paraná magmatism 



This manuscript was greatly improved by the comments and suggestions from two anonymous Mineralogy and Petrology reviewers and the editorial work from Maarten A.T.M. Broekmans. The Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM) is thanked for providing data and assistance. VP is supported by CNPQ grant nr. 455677/2014-0.

Supplementary material

710_2019_677_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
ESM 1 Item 1 Major (wt.%) and trace (ppm) element concentrations in ultrabasic Morungava rocks. Limits of detection (LoD) in wt.% oxide. The complete database is made available by Hulbert et al. (1999) (DOCX 43 kb)
710_2019_677_MOESM2_ESM.docx (41 kb)
ESM 2 Item 2 EPMA analyses of olivine in the studied samples from the Morungava intrusion. * Based on 4 Oxygen. Limits of detection (LoD) in wt.% oxide (DOCX 40 kb)
710_2019_677_MOESM3_ESM.docx (32 kb)
ESM 3 Item 3 EPMA analyses of spinel in the studied samples from the Morungava intrusion. Limits of detection (LoD) in wt.% oxide (DOCX 31 kb)
710_2019_677_MOESM4_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 4 Item 4 Representative EPMA analyses of Ca-rich pyroxene in the studied samples from the Morungava intrusion. Limits of detection (LoD) in wt.% oxide (DOCX 14 kb)
710_2019_677_MOESM5_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)
ESM 5 Item 5 Spreadsheet (.xlsx) Morungava_Table. Representative EPMA analyses of olivine-spinel pairs from the Morungava intrusion used for geothermometry in this study (XLSX 14 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Engenharia, Engenharia GeológicaUniversidade Federal de PelotasPelotasBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de GeociênciasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Institut für Mineralogie und KristallchemieUniversität StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  4. 4.CPRM – Serviço Geológico do BrasilPorto AlegreBrazil

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