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Hydrothermal mobilisation of Au and other metals in supra-subduction oceanic crust: Insights from the Troodos ophiolite

Hydrothermal mobilisation of Au and other metals in supra-subduction oceanic crust: Insights from the Troodos ophiolite
Hydrothermal mobilisation of Au and other metals in supra-subduction oceanic crust: Insights from the Troodos ophiolite
The Troodos ophiolite is an ideal location to investigate the relationships between the mobilisation of metals by hydrothermal fluids from the lower oceanic crust and the formation of volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits. The ophiolite hosts the classic “Cyprus-type” Cu-rich VMS deposits as well as abundant zones of epidosite alteration in the lower sheeted dyke section that are significantly depleted in base metals including Cu and Zn, and are considered to be the source of the metals enriched in the overlying deposits. Previous research indicates that the Troodos VMS deposits are irregularly enriched in Au and related elements As, Sb, and Se, but the behaviour of these elements during the hydrothermal alteration of the Troodos ophiolite hitherto has been poorly investigated. Low detection limit whole rock analyses of fresh glass samples reveal that the Troodos primitive crust has a similar metal content and distribution to modern-day arc-related environments such as the Manus Basin. Compared to mid-oceanic ridge basalt (MORB), the Troodos primitive crust is enriched in As, Sb and Pb most likely due to addition from a subducting slab during crustal formation. During early stages of magmatic differentiation (9–3.5 wt% MgO) Au, As, Sb, Se, Cu, Zn and Pb behave as incompatible elements due to the sulphide-undersaturated nature of the melt. The onset of magnetite crystallisation, however, at ∼3.5 wt% MgO leads to sulphide segregation and depletion of strongly chalcophile elements (Au, Cu and Se) during continued differentiation (<3.5 wt% MgO) whereas poorly chalcophile elements (As, Sb, Zn and Pb) remain incompatible. These differences in metal behaviour can account for the Cu-rich, Zn-Pb-poor of the Cyprus-type VMS deposits as the source area rocks show high Cu fertility compared to Zn and Pb. Mobilisation of metals during hydrothermal alteration of the Troodos ophiolite is more extensive than observed in hydrothermally altered MORB. Mass balance calculations show that the epidosite zones are significantly depleted in Au (−88 ± 16%), As (−89 ± 23%), Sb (−60 ± 12%), Se (−91 ± 20%), Cu (−84 ± 18%), Zn (−63 ± 9%) and Pb (−60 ± 8%). Background altered diabase from outside epidosite zones shows similar metal depletions which suggests that the source areas of VMS are not restricted to epidosite zones but are extended to the lower sheeted dyke section. The masses of metals mobilised from a source area of 10.9 km3, (composed of a 5 km3 epidosite zone and 5.9 km3 of background altered diabase) in the Solea graben are 47 t Au, 21 kt As, 1200 t Sb, 3100 t Se, 2.4 Mt Cu, 1.8 Mt Zn and 27 kt Pb. Comparison of metal quantities mobilised from lower sheeted dike section in the Solea graben with those hosted in VMS deposits shows trapping efficiencies ranging from 4 to 37% indicating that most of the metals is lost by other processes.
0169-1368
487-508
Patten, C.G.C.
37453afd-d13c-435a-9665-73923173ebfd
Pitcairn, I.K.
e6c79a72-1150-49fe-8b03-95db13e69c2e
Teagle, D.A.H.
396539c5-acbe-4dfa-bb9b-94af878fe286
Patten, C.G.C.
37453afd-d13c-435a-9665-73923173ebfd
Pitcairn, I.K.
e6c79a72-1150-49fe-8b03-95db13e69c2e
Teagle, D.A.H.
396539c5-acbe-4dfa-bb9b-94af878fe286

Patten, C.G.C., Pitcairn, I.K. and Teagle, D.A.H. (2017) Hydrothermal mobilisation of Au and other metals in supra-subduction oceanic crust: Insights from the Troodos ophiolite. Ore Geology Reviews, 86, 487-508. (doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2017.02.019).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Troodos ophiolite is an ideal location to investigate the relationships between the mobilisation of metals by hydrothermal fluids from the lower oceanic crust and the formation of volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits. The ophiolite hosts the classic “Cyprus-type” Cu-rich VMS deposits as well as abundant zones of epidosite alteration in the lower sheeted dyke section that are significantly depleted in base metals including Cu and Zn, and are considered to be the source of the metals enriched in the overlying deposits. Previous research indicates that the Troodos VMS deposits are irregularly enriched in Au and related elements As, Sb, and Se, but the behaviour of these elements during the hydrothermal alteration of the Troodos ophiolite hitherto has been poorly investigated. Low detection limit whole rock analyses of fresh glass samples reveal that the Troodos primitive crust has a similar metal content and distribution to modern-day arc-related environments such as the Manus Basin. Compared to mid-oceanic ridge basalt (MORB), the Troodos primitive crust is enriched in As, Sb and Pb most likely due to addition from a subducting slab during crustal formation. During early stages of magmatic differentiation (9–3.5 wt% MgO) Au, As, Sb, Se, Cu, Zn and Pb behave as incompatible elements due to the sulphide-undersaturated nature of the melt. The onset of magnetite crystallisation, however, at ∼3.5 wt% MgO leads to sulphide segregation and depletion of strongly chalcophile elements (Au, Cu and Se) during continued differentiation (<3.5 wt% MgO) whereas poorly chalcophile elements (As, Sb, Zn and Pb) remain incompatible. These differences in metal behaviour can account for the Cu-rich, Zn-Pb-poor of the Cyprus-type VMS deposits as the source area rocks show high Cu fertility compared to Zn and Pb. Mobilisation of metals during hydrothermal alteration of the Troodos ophiolite is more extensive than observed in hydrothermally altered MORB. Mass balance calculations show that the epidosite zones are significantly depleted in Au (−88 ± 16%), As (−89 ± 23%), Sb (−60 ± 12%), Se (−91 ± 20%), Cu (−84 ± 18%), Zn (−63 ± 9%) and Pb (−60 ± 8%). Background altered diabase from outside epidosite zones shows similar metal depletions which suggests that the source areas of VMS are not restricted to epidosite zones but are extended to the lower sheeted dyke section. The masses of metals mobilised from a source area of 10.9 km3, (composed of a 5 km3 epidosite zone and 5.9 km3 of background altered diabase) in the Solea graben are 47 t Au, 21 kt As, 1200 t Sb, 3100 t Se, 2.4 Mt Cu, 1.8 Mt Zn and 27 kt Pb. Comparison of metal quantities mobilised from lower sheeted dike section in the Solea graben with those hosted in VMS deposits shows trapping efficiencies ranging from 4 to 37% indicating that most of the metals is lost by other processes.

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Patten_etal_2017_OreGeoRev_Final_Accepted_complete - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 21 February 2017
Published date: 1 June 2017
Organisations: Geochemistry, Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 408286
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/408286
ISSN: 0169-1368
PURE UUID: afc87d66-28a4-4486-aa00-7a2969f1fafb
ORCID for D.A.H. Teagle: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4416-8409

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Date deposited: 19 May 2017 04:02
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 04:41

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