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Sulphur Isotopes, Trace Elements and Mineral Stability Diagrams of Waters from the Abandoned Fe–Cu Mines of Libiola and Vigonzano (Northern Apennines, Italy)

Abstract

The geochemical characteristics of rills draining pyrite-chalcopyrite tailings impoundments and of bordering streams were investigated at the ophiolite-hosted Libiola and Vigonzano abandoned massive sulphide mines, northern Apennines Italy. Water samples were analysed for major and trace chemical composition, hydrogen and oxygen isotope composition, and sulphur isotope composition of aqueous sulphate. Sulphur isotope composition was determined also for some samples of ore sulphides. At Libiola, the newly acquired chemical results on waters corroborate those from previous investigations, thus providing additional support to existing geochemical models in terms of metal distribution, solid phases precipitation, reaction path modelling and mixing reaction paths, and environmental problems. At Vigonzano, the chemical characteristics of waters are similar to those at Libiola. In both localities, solution-secondary phase equilibria estimated using an updated thermodynamic dataset account for mineralogy in the field, including poorly crystalline phases like jurbanite and hydrowoodwardite. The hydrogen and oxygen isotope composition of waters at Libiola and Vigonzano agrees with their meteoric origin. Acid to neutral mine waters do not show any significant isotope shift with respect to the initial water, in spite of the oxidation of even large amounts of pyrite/chalcopyrite ore. The sulphur isotope composition of aqueous sulphate in mine rills at Libiola (δ 34S = 5.6 to 8.5‰; mean 6.5‰) matches that of massive sulphide ore (δ 34S = −0.5 to 6.7‰; mean 5.8‰), in keeping with the supergenic origin of the sulphate and related isotope effects in the sulphide oxidation process. Sulphate in mine waters at Vigonzano displays lower δ 34S values in the range 0.6 to 1.5‰. The δ 34S signature of massive ore specimens is within the range reported for most volcanic-hosted massive sulphide deposits, including Cyprus-type deposits.

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Cortecci, G., Boschetti, T., Dinelli, E. et al. Sulphur Isotopes, Trace Elements and Mineral Stability Diagrams of Waters from the Abandoned Fe–Cu Mines of Libiola and Vigonzano (Northern Apennines, Italy). Water Air Soil Pollut 192, 85–103 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-008-9637-8

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Keywords

  • Apennine ophiolites
  • mine water
  • sulphidic mine tailings
  • sulphur isotopes
  • water isotopes