Insights into sulfur cycling at subduction zones from in-situ isotopic analysis of sulfides in high-pressure serpentinites and ‘hybrid’ samples from Alpine Corsica

R. J. Crossley, K. A. Evans, H. Jeon, M. R. Kilburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Devolatilisation of serpentinites at depth in subduction zones contributes significant quantities of sulfur and other redox sensitive elements to the sub-arc mantle. However, the fate of sulfur in subducted serpentinites is poorly constrained. Textures of sulfur-bearing phases in subducted serpentinites are rarely studied, yet provide important information on the changes to sulfur distribution throughout the subduction cycle and as a result of fluid infiltration. δ34S values of sulfides provide constraints on sulfur sources, the redox state of sulfur in the host mineral, and on processes that have occurred subsequent to sulfide crystallisation, including interaction with oxidised or reduced fluids. Therefore, it is possible to use δ34S values in subducted serpentinites to constrain the redox state of sulfur in sulfides and subduction zone fluids. Furthermore, the proximity of serpentinites to ocean crust and metasediments may influence enrichment or depletion of 34S during subduction relative to serpentinites distal to such lithologies. This study investigates the redox state, the likelihood of sulfur addition to the sub-arc mantle from serpentinite dehydration, and the distribution of sulfur within subducted serpentinites and ‘hybrid’ mafic/ultramafic rocks from Alpine Corsica. The techniques utilised include petrographic analysis, in-situ sulfur isotopic analysis and trace element analysis of sulfides hosted in these rocks. All sulfides investigated have high δ34S values of 1.9–15.5‰ which suggests that mantle-derived sulfur (δ34S ~0.1‰), was not the sole source of sulfur. The highest δ34S values are recorded in pyrites of a hybrid mafic/ultramafic sample. High δ34S values are preserved in sulfides attributed to prograde metamorphism, and is most consistent with the retention of sulfur derived from hydrothermal sulfate reduction on the seafloor. However, a shift towards higher δ34S values in sulfides associated with the advanced stages of exhumation suggests that late stage exhumation enables enhanced access to slab-derived fluids bearing oxidised sulfur (SO4 2− or SO2). Such fluids may have been derived from the devolatilisation of serpentinite at greater depth, or from other lithologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-378
Number of pages20
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2018


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