Sulfidization of 3.48 billion-year-old stromatolites of the Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton: Constraints from in-situ sulfur isotope analysis of pyrite

Raphael J. Baumgartner, Stefano Caruso, Marco L. Fiorentini, Martin J. Van Kranendonk, Laure Martin, Heejin Jeon, Anais Pagès, David Wacey

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This study reports in–situ sulfur isotope analyses (32S, 33S, 34S and 36S) of pyrite in strongly sulfidized stromatolites from the ~3.48 billion–year–old Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton, Australia. These data shed light on sulfur reservoirs and sulfide precipitation processes and provide clues for the contribution of sulfur–cycling microbes to sulfidization. Sulfur isotope signatures derived from mass dependent fractionation (MDF; monitored by δ34S) and mass independent fractionation (MIF; here Δ33S and Δ36S) of pyrite in stromatolites, and of microscopic pyrite within associated barite, allow for the identification of distinctive sulfur sources: i) magmatic–hydrothermal sulfide (H2S) with δ34S and Δ33S ~ 0%; ii) magmatic–hydrothermal sulfate (SO4 2 ) with a MDF signature (MDF–SO4 2 ; δ34S ~ 10‰ and Δ33S ~ 0‰; iii) photochemically–derived sulfate with a MIF signature (MIF–SO4; δ34S ~ −6‰ and Δ33S ~ −3.0‰); iv) photochemically–derived elemental sulfur (S0) with δ34S ≪ 0 and Δ33S ≫ 0‰. The sulfur isotope data suggest that sulfidization was largely driven by reduction of intermixed MDF–SO4 2 and MIF–SO4 2 (bulk signature of δ34S ~ 5‰ and Δ33S ~ −1.4‰), and dilution of produced H2S (δ34S ~ −12‰ and Δ33S ~ −1.4‰) by native H2S in magmatic–hydrothermal fluids. The δ34S shifts (up to ~17‰) generated by sulfate reduction are consistent with both thermochemical reactions and influence of sulfate–cycling microbes, the latter which may have facilitated rapid pyrite precipitation and preservation of microbial remains that are entombed within the petrogenetically earliest pyrite generation of stromatolites. Collectively, our data are consistent with ancient stromatolite growth in proximity to shallow marine hydrothermal vents, where hydrothermal fluids contributed to sulfidization that may have been further influenced by sulfur–cycling microbes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119488
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2020


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