The ultramafic-hosted Kairei vent field is located at 25°19′ S, 70°02′ E, towards the Northern end of segment 1 of the Central Indian Ridge (CIR-S1) at a water depth of ~2450 m. This study aims to investigate the distribution of trace elements among sulfide minerals of differing textures and to examine the possible factors controlling the trace element distribution in those minerals using LA-ICP-MS spot and line scan analyses. Our results show that there are distinct systematic differences in trace element distributions throughout the different minerals, as follows: (1) pyrite is divided into three types at Kairei, including early-stage euhedral pyrite (py-I), sub-euhedral pyrite (py-II), and colloform pyrite (py-III). Pyrite is generally enriched with Mo, Au, As, Tl, Mn, and U. Pyrite-I has high contents of Se, Te, Bi, and Ni when compared to the other types; py-II is enriched in Au relative to py-I and py-III, but poor in Ni; py-III is enriched in Mo, Pb, and U but is poor in Se, Te, Bi, and Au relative to py-I and py-II. Variations in the concentrations of Se, Te, and Bi in pyrite are most likely governed by the strong temperature gradient. There is generally a lower concentration of nickel than Co in pyrite, indicating that our samples precipitated at high temperatures, whereas the extreme Co enrichment is likely from a magmatic heat source combined with an influence of serpentinization reactions. (2) Chalcopyrite is characterized by high concentrations of Co, Se, and Te. The abundance of Se and Te in chalcopyrite over the other minerals is interpreted to have been caused by the high solubilities of Se and Te in the chalcopyrite lattice at high temperatures. The concentrations of Sb, As, and Au are relatively low in chalcopyrite from the Kairei vent field. (3) Sphalerite from Zn-rich chimneys is characterized by high concentrations of Sn, Co, Ga, Ge, Ag, Pb, Sb, As, and Cd, but is depleted in Se, Te, Bi, Mo, Au, Ni, Tl, Mn, Ba, V, and U in comparison with the other minerals. The high concentrations of Cd and Co are likely caused by the substitution of Cd2+
in sphalerite. A high concentration of Pb accompanied by a high Ag concentration in sphalerite indicates that Ag occurs as Pb–Ag sulfosalts. Gold is generally low in sphalerite and strongly correlates with Pb, suggesting its presence in microinclusions of galena. The strong correlation of As with Ge in sphalerite from Kairei suggests that they might precipitate at medium temperatures and under moderately reduced conditions. (4) Bornite–digenite has very low concentrations of most trace elements, except for Co, Se, and Bi. Serpentinization in ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal systems might play an important role in Au enrichment in pyrite with low As contents. Compared to felsic-hosted seafloor massive sulfide deposits, sulfide minerals from ultramafic-hosted deposits show higher concentrations of Se and Te, but lower As, Sb, and Au concentrations, the latter often attributed to the contribution of magmatic volatiles. As with typical ultramafic-hosted seafloor massive sulfide deposits, Se enrichment in chalcopyrite from Kairei indicates that the primary factor that controls the Se enrichment is temperature-controlled mobility in vent fluids.