An experimental study on metal precipitation driven by fluid mixing: implications for genesis of carbonate-hosted lead–zinc ore deposits

  • Yan Zhang
  • Runsheng HanEmail author
  • Xing DingEmail author
  • Junjie He
  • Yurong Wang
Original Article


A type of carbonate-hosted lead–zinc (Pb–Zn) ore deposits, known as Mississippi Valley Type (MVT) deposits, constitutes an important category of lead–zinc ore deposits. Previous studies proposed a fluid-mixing model to account for metal precipitation mechanism of the MVT ore deposits, in which fluids with metal-chloride complexes happen to mix with fluids with reduced sulfur, producing metal sulfide deposition. In this hypothesis, however, the detailed chemical kinetic process of mixing reactions, and especially the controlling factors on the metal precipitation are not yet clearly stated. In this paper, a series of mixing experiments under ambient temperature and pressure conditions were conducted to simulate the fluid mixing process, by titrating the metal-chloride solutions, doping with or without dolomite, and using NaHS solution. Experimental results, combined with the thermodynamic calculations, suggest that H2S, rather than HS or S2−, dominated the reactions of Pb and/or Zn precipitation during the fluid mixing process, in which metal precipitation was influenced by the stability of metal complexes and the pH. Given the constant concentrations of metal and total S in fluids, the pH was a primary factor controlling the Pb and/or Zn metal precipitation. This is because neutralizing or neutralized processes for the ore-forming fluids can cause instabilities of Pb and/or Zn chloride complexes and re-distribution of sulfur species, and thus can facilitate the hydrolysis of Pb and Zn ions and precipitation of sulfides. Therefore, a weakly acidic to neutral fluid environment is most favorable for the precipitation of Pb and Zn sulfides associated with the carbonate-hosted Pb–Zn deposits.


Metal precipitation Fluid mixing Sulfur species MVT lead–zinc ore deposits Carbonate-hosted lead–zinc deposits 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This work was supported jointly by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2016YFC0600408), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41572060, 41773054, U1133602, 41802089), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2017M610614), projects of YM Lab (2011) and Innovation Team of Yunnan Province and KMUST (2008 and 2012), and Yunnan and Kunming University of Science and Technology Postdoctoral Sustentation Fund.

Supplementary material

11631_2019_314_MOESM1_ESM.doc (194 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 193 kb)


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© Science Press and Institute of Geochemistry, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey Center for Non-ferrous Mineral ResourcesKunming University of Science and TechnologyKunmingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Mineralogy and Metallogenic, Guangzhou Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  5. 5.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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