Three-Dimensional Spatially Constrained Sulfur Isotopes Highlight Processes Controlling Sulfur Cycling in the Near Surface of the Iheya North Hydrothermal System, Okinawa Trough

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Modern seafloor hydrothermal systems are unique environments in which many of the Earth's reservoirs, including the hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, dynamically interact. Analysis of spatially constrained sulfur isotope compositions from fluids and hydrothermal precipitates within the discharge zone of a volcanogenic system can be used to trace the interactions between the various isotopically distinct sulfur reservoirs that result in the formation of hydrothermal massive sulfide deposits. Here we present in situ sulfur isotope results from laterally and vertically constrained euhedral hydrothermal pyrite from the Iheya North hydrothermal system in the Okinawa Trough, which was investigated during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 331. Hydrothermal pyrite at the North Big Chimney yields δ34S values of ~+11.9 ± 1.1‰ (1σ), which are near identical to the δ34S composition of the vent fluid. Outward, ~150 and ~450 m from North Big Chimney, hydrothermal pyrite within drill core yields δ34S equal to +10.9 ± 1.3‰ (1σ) and +7.0 ± 3.8‰ (1σ), respectively, showing a shift in isotopic composition away from the main vent site. This evolution to a lighter and more scattered isotopic signature of hydrothermal pyrite (which is easily identifiable from biogenic pyrite) is interpreted to indicate that the hydrothermal fluid leached sulfides (formed previously by biogenic processes) from the surrounding sedimentary strata. As the most significant metal enrichments (Fe, Zn, Cu, Bi, Tl, and Cd) are associated with samples that contain average hydrothermal pyrite δ34S values similar to δ34S of the vent fluid, we demonstrate that sulfur isotopes can vector toward metals in seafloor massive sulfide deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2798-2812
Number of pages15
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


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