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Chemical behaviour of sphalerite and arsenopyrite in hydrothermal and metamorphic environments*

  • S. D. Scott (a1)

Examples of application of equilibria in the systems Fe-Zn-S, Cu-Fe-Zn-S, Fe-As-S, and Fe-Zn-As-S are drawn from modern sulphide-forming hydrothermal vents on the East Pacific Rise, from ancient vein deposits and from metamorphosed sulphide ores. The ZnS content (1.2 and 1.3 mole %) of Cu-Fe-S intermediate solid solution (iss) from the sea-floor deposits gives temperatures of equilibration of 331° and 335 °C from experimental curves, in excellent agreement with the 350 °C expected from actual measurement of the hot springs. Heterogeneities in sphalerite in these deposits do not necessarily represent disequilibrium during deposition but can be explained simply by small fluctuations in a S2 . Diagrams of log a S2 vs. 1000/T, K for sphalerite and arsenopyrite are useful for estimating temperature and activity of sulphur in hydrothermal or metamorphosed deposits provided that equilibrium can be demonstrated and the systems are properly buffered.

The sphalerite geobarometer has had wide applications, some successful (mostly vein deposits) and some not (particularly metamorphosed ores in which chalcopyrite is in contact with sphalerite). Compositions of sphalerites which are totally enclosed within metablastic pyrites represent preserved high P-T equilibria which have been isolated from further reaction during subsequent retrograde conditions by the inert encapsulating pyrite and may provide more reliable estimates of pressure.

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Mineralogical Magazine
  • ISSN: 0026-461X
  • EISSN: 1471-8022
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