Mineral Assemblages as Indicators of the Maturity of Oceanic Hydrothermal Sulfide Mounds

Abstract

The composition of ore minerals in MAR sulfide occurrences related to ultramafic rocks was studied using methods of mineragraphy, electron microscopy, microprobe analysis, and X-ray analysis. The objects are located at various levels of the maturity of sulfide mounds owing to differences in age, duration, and degree of activity of the following hydrothermal systems: generally inactive Logatchev-1 field (up to 66.5 ka old), inactive Logatchev-2 field (3.9 ka), and generally active Rainbow field (up to 23 ka). Relative to MAR submarine ore occurrences in the basalt substrate, mineralization in the hydrothermal fields mentioned above is characterized by high contents of Au, Cd, Co, and Ni, along with the presence of accessory minerals of Co and Ni. The studied mounds differ in quantitative ratios of major minerals and structural-textural features of ores that suggest their transformation. Ores in the Logatchev-1 field are characterized by the highest Cu content and the development of a wide range of multistage contrast exsolution structures of isocubanite and bornite. In the Logatchev-2 field, sphalerite-chalcopyrite and gold-arsenic exsolution structures are present, but isocubanite exsolution structures are less diverse and contrast. The Rainbow field is marked by the presence of homogenous isocubanite and the subordinate development of exsolution structures. We have identified four new phases in the Cu-Fe-S system. Phases X and Y (close to chalcopyrite and isocubanite, respectively) make up lamellae among isocubanite exsolution products in Logatchev-1 and Logatchev-2. Phase Y includes homogenous zones in zonal chimneys of the Rainbow field. Phases A and B are formed in the orange bornite domain at low-temperature alteration of chalcopyrite in the Logatchev-1 field. Mineral assemblages of the Cu-S system are most abundant and diverse in the Logatchev-1 field, but their development is minimal in the Logatchev-2 field where mainly Cu-poor sulfides of the geerite-covellite series have been identified. Specific features of mineral assemblages mentioned above reflect the maturity grade of sulfide mounds and can serve as indicators of maturity.

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Translated from Litologiya i Poleznye Iskopaemye, No. 4, 2005, pp. 339–367.

Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Mozgova, Borodaev, Gablina, Cherkashev, Stepanova.

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Mozgova, N.N., Borodaev, Y.S., Gablina, I.F. et al. Mineral Assemblages as Indicators of the Maturity of Oceanic Hydrothermal Sulfide Mounds. Lithol Miner Resour 40, 293–319 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10987-005-0030-z

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Keywords

  • Mineral Assemblage
  • Ultramafic Rock
  • Hydrothermal Field
  • Maturity Grade
  • Hydrothermal Sulfide