Sulfur isotope and trace element compositions of pyrite determined by NanoSIMS and LA-ICP-MS: new constraints on the genesis of the Shuiyindong Carlin-like gold deposit in SW China

  • Jin-xiang Li
  • Rui-zhong HuEmail author
  • Cheng-hai Zhao
  • Jing-jing Zhu
  • Yong Huang
  • Wei Gao
  • Jin-wei Li
  • Yu-zhou Zhuo


The Shuiyindong Carlin-like gold deposit, the largest one of this type in China, is located in the Late Paleozoic–Early Mesozoic Youjiang basin. The pyrites in the studied ore bodies (No. I to V) can be divided into four main types plus several sub-types: (1) As-poor pyrites include Py1 (Py1a and Py1b), Py2, and Py3; and (2) As-rich pyrite Py4 (Py4a and Py4b). In situ LA-ICP-MS analyses show that the As-rich pyrite also contains higher Au, Cu, Sb, and Tl than the other pyrite types. In situ NanoSIMS analyses show the δ34S variation of Py1 (48.1~67.5‰), Py2 (2.4~7.6‰), Py3 (9.2~14.2‰), and Py4 (− 3.0~6.6‰), with the average values of 58.1‰, 5.1‰, 11.4‰, and 3.1‰, respectively. The large δ34S variations of As-poor pyrites may reflect a sedimentary source. However, the narrow ranges of δ34S values for the As-rich pyrite (Py4) may not reflect a sedimentary but a magmatic or metamorphic origin. A metamorphic sulfur source of Py4 is favored due to paucity of coeval magmatism in the region and decreasing variations of δ34S values from Py1 to Py4. Integrated transmission electron microscope (TEM) and NanoSIMS element mapping show that the distribution and concentration of Au are discordant with As and Cu at the submicron scale, also implied by the occurrence of some of Au as nano-submicron particles in Py4. Overall, our new data indicate that the ore fluids were not only enriched in Au but also in As, Cu, and S. Taking an alternative of fluid oxidation probably resulting in the decreasing δ34S values of Py4, our result of I to V orebodies indicates the mixing between the underlying metamorphic fluid and meteoric water. Integrated variations in δ34S and As-Au-Cu correlations across individual pyrite grains infer the physicochemical changes of aqueous and/or aqueous-carbonic fluids along migration paths.


Shuiyindong Carlin-like gold deposit Pyrite NanoSIMS and LA-ICP-MS analyses Sulfur isotopes Trace element compositions 



This study was funded by the National 973 Program of China (2014CB440906) and the National Natural Foundation of China (41830432, U1812402). We thank Guizhou Zijin Gold Mines for field work support. We are grateful to Mr. Jianchao Zhang and Mr. Jialong Hao for helping with NanoSIMS S isotope analyses, to Mr. Wei Gao for helping with LA-ICP-MS analyses, to Ms. Rui Li for FIB work, and to Dr. Shirong Liu for TEM tests, respectively. Big thanks are given to Dr. Chusi Li of Indiana University for English language polishing for the early version of this manuscript. We acknowledge all the reviewers including Dr. Ross R. Large (University of Tasmania) and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive reviews and considerate suggestions that led to great improvement of this paper. We also would like to thank Editor-in-Chief Bernd Lehmann and associate editor Shao-yong Jiang for handling our manuscript.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin-xiang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rui-zhong Hu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cheng-hai Zhao
    • 1
  • Jing-jing Zhu
    • 1
  • Yong Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jin-wei Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yu-zhou Zhuo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Ore Deposit GeochemistryInstitute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangChina
  2. 2.College of Earth and Planetary SciencesUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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