Mineralogical and geochemical features of sulfide chimneys from the 49°39?E hydrothermal field on the Southwest Indian Ridge and their geological inferences Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • During January–May in 2007, the Chinese research cruise DY115-19 discovered an active hydrothermal field at 49°39?E/37°47?S on the ultraslow spreading Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR). This was also the first active hydrothermal field found along an ultraslow-spreading ridge. We analyzed mineralogical, textural and geochemical compositions of the sulfide chimneys obtained from the 49°39?E field. Chimney samples show a concentric mineral zone around the fluid channel. The mineral assemblages of the interiors consist mainly of chalcopyrite, with pyrite and sphalerite as minor constitunets. In the intermediate portion, pyrite becomes the dominant mineral, with chalcopyrite and sphalerite as minor constitunets. For the outer wall, the majority of minerals are pyrite and sphalerite, with few chalcopyrite. Towards the outer margin of the chimney wall, the mineral grains become small and irregular in shape gradually, while minerals within interstices are abundant. These features are similar to those chimney edifices found on the East Pacific Rise and Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The average contents of Cu, Fe and Zn in our chimney samples were 2.83 wt%, 45.6 wt% and 3.28 wt%, respectively. The average Au and Ag contents were up to 2.0 ppm and 70.2 ppm respectively, higher than the massive sulfides from most hydrothermal fields along mid-ocean ridge. The rare earth elements geochemistry of the sulfide chimneys show a pattern distinctive from the sulfides recovered from typical hydrothermal fields along sediment-starved mid-ocean ridge, with the enrichment of light rare earth elements but the weak, mostly negative, Eu anomaly. This is attributed to the distinct mineralization environment or fluid compositions in this area.

publication date

  • September 2011