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Sulfur isotopic compositions of sulfides along the Southwest Indian Ridge: implications for mineralization in ultramafic rocks

Abstract

The recently explored Tianzuo hydrothermal field in serpentinized ultramafic rocks of the amagmatic segment of the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge displays high-temperature sulfide mineralization (isocubanite, sphalerite, and minor pyrrhotite) and low-temperature (pyrite and covellite) phases. Pyrite can be subdivided into pyrite-I and -II, with the former generally having a pseudomorphic texture after pyrrhotite and the latter typically growing around isocubanite, sphalerite, and pyrite-I or occurring as individual grains in quartz veinlets. The sulfide minerals have the greatest range of δ34S values (− 23.8 to 14.1‰), found so far among modern sediment-starved ridges, with distinct δ34S values for low- and high-temperature mineral phases. The high δ34S values of isocubanite (9.6 to 12.2‰) and sphalerite (9.1 to 14.1‰) suggest that sulfate, which precipitated from seawater during an early low-temperature phase of hydrothermal circulation, was the main sulfur source for these sulfides. Pyrite-II has the lowest and most variable δ34S values (− 23.8 to − 3.6‰), suggesting microbial sulfate reduction. Pyrite-I has variable and generally positive δ34S values (− 0.1 to 12.0‰), with sulfur being inherited from pyrrhotite from the original thermochemical reduction of sulfate, mixed with volcanogenic sulfur. Intermittent magmatism represented by gabbroic intrusions, and high permeability caused by well-developed fractures associated with detachment faults, contributed to the formation of sulfides in the Tianzuo hydrothermal field. These factors possibly control sulfide mineralization in amagmatic segments of ultraslow-spreading ridges.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Dr. Crystal LaFlamme, an anonymous reviewer, Dr. Marco Fiorentini (Editor) and Dr. Bernd Lehmann (Editor-in-Chief) for their thoughtful reviews and constructive comments.

Funding

This work is financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China under contract nos. 2017YFC0306603, 2018YFC0309901, 2016YFC0304905, and 2018YFC0309902; the National Science Foundation for Young Scientists of China (Grant Nos. 41803037 and 41806076); the Foundation for Young Scientists of Jiangsu Province (Grant No. BK20180511); the Fundamental research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant Nos. 2017B03314 and 2017B04514); the COMRA Major Project under contract nos. DY135-S1-1-01 and DY135-S1-1-02; the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. LQ16D060008), Scientific Research Fund of the Second Institute of Oceanography (Grant No. JG1609), Macao Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT-002/2018/A1), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2019M652043), and Open Research Fund Program of Key Laboratory of Metallogenic Prediction of Nonferrous Metals and Geological Environment Monitoring (Central South University), Ministry of Education (2019YSJS03).

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ESM 1

Back-scattered electron images and EDS element mappings showing the distribution of elements S, Fe, Cu, Zn, Si, and Mg in sulfides and surrounding matrix. (a1–a6) Isocubanite surrounded by pyrite-II; (b1–b6) Sphalerite with exsolution of isocubanite; (c1–c3) Subhedral sphalerite grain; (d1–d3) Pyrrhotite replaced by pyrite-II; (e1–e6) Pyrite-I replaced by pyrite-II; (f1–f6) Fibrous covellite in the quartz matrix. Abbreviations are as in Fig. 2.@ (DOCX 35485 kb)

ESM 2

In situ sulfur isotopic compositions of sulfide minerals in the Tianzuo hydrothermal field. (DOCX 17 kb)

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Ding, T., Tao, C., Dias, Á.A. et al. Sulfur isotopic compositions of sulfides along the Southwest Indian Ridge: implications for mineralization in ultramafic rocks. Miner Deposita 56, 991–1006 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-020-01025-0

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Keywords

  • Tianzuo hydrothermal field
  • SWIR (Southwest Indian Ridge)
  • Ultramafic rocks
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfur isotopes