Strontium and oxygen isotopic constraints on fluid mixing, alteration and mineralization in the TAG hydrothermal deposit

Damon A.H. Teagle, Jeffrey C. Alt, Hitoshi Chiba, Susan E. Humphris, Alex N. Halliday

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Strontium- and oxygen-isotopic measurements of samples recovered from the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal mound during Leg 158 of the Ocean Drilling Program provide important constraints on the nature of fluid-rock interactions during basalt alteration and mineralization within an active hydrothermal deposit. Fresh Mid-Ocean Ridge Basalt (MORB), with a 87Sr/86Sr of 0.7026, from the basement beneath the TAG mound was altered at both low and high temperatures by seawater and altered at high temperature by near end-member black smoker fluids. Pillow breccias occurring beneath the margins of the mound are locally recrystallized to chloride by interaction with large volumes of conductively heated seawater (>200°C). The development of a silicified, sulfide-mineralized stockwork within the basaltic basement follows a simple paragenetic sequence of chloritization followed by mineralization and the development of a quartz+pyrite+paragonite stockwork cut by quartz-pyrite veins. Initial alteration involved the development of chloritic alteration halos around basalt clasts by reaction with a Mg-bearing mixture of upwelling, high-temperature (>300°C), black smoker-type fluid with a minor (<10%) proportion of seawater. Continued high-temperature (>300°C) interaction between the wallrock and these Mg-bearing fluids results in the complete recrystallization of the wallrock to chlorite+quartz+pyrite. The quartz+pyrite+paragonite assemblage replaces the chloritized basalts, and developed by reaction at 250-360°C with end-member hydrothermal fluids having 87Sr/86Sr≃0.7038, similar to present-day vent fluids. The uniformity of the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of hydrothermal assemblages throughout the mound and stockwork requires that the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of end-member hydrothermal fluids has remained relatively constant for a time period longer than that required to cahnge the interior thermal structure and plumbing network of the mound and underlying stockwork. Precipitation of anhydrite in brecciasand as late-stage veins throughout most of the mound and stockework, down to at least 125 mbsf, records extensive entrainment of seawater into the hydrothermal deposit. 87Sr/86Sr ratios indicate that most of the anhydrite formed from ≃2:1 mixture of seawater and black smoker fluids (65%±15% seawater). Oxygen-isotopic compositions imply that anhydrite percipitated at temperatures between 147°C and 270°C and require that seawater was conductivity heated to between 100°C and 180°C before mixing and precipitation occurred. Anhydrite from the TAG mound has a Sr-Ca partition coefficient Kd≃0.60±0.28 (2 σ). This value is in agreement with the range of experimentally determined partition coefficients (Kd≃0.27-0.73) and is similar to those calculated for anhydrite from active black smoker chimneys from 21°N on the East Pacific Rise. The δ18OSO4 of TAG anhydrite brackers the value of seawater sulfate oxygen (≃9.5‰). Dissolution of anhydrite back into the oceans during episodes of hydrothermal quiescence provides a mechanism of buffering seawater sulfate oxygen to an isotopically light composition, in addition to the precipitation and dissolution of anhydrite within the oceanic basement during hydrothermal recharge at the mid-ocean ridges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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