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Open AccessArticle

He–Ar–S Isotopic Compositions of Polymetallic Sulphides from Hydrothermal Vent Fields along the Ultraslow-Spreading Southwest Indian Ridge and Their Geological Implications

1,2,†, 2,†, 2,3,4,*, 5, 3, 2, 1,2 and 3,5
South China Sea Institute of Planning and Environmental Research, State Oceanic Administration, Guangzhou 510300, China
School of Marine Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China
School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Resources and Coastal Engineering, Guangzhou 510006, China
Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, Guangzhou 510760, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Minerals 2018, 8(11), 512;
Received: 28 August 2018 / Revised: 2 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 7 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deep-Sea Minerals and Gas Hydrates)
PDF [1861 KB, uploaded 13 November 2018]


Noble gases have become a powerful tool to constrain the origin and evolution of ore-forming fluids in seafloor hydrothermal systems. The aim of this study was to apply these tracers to understand the genesis of newly discovered polymetallic sulphide deposits along the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR). The helium, argon, and sulphur isotope compositions of metal sulphide minerals were measured for a number of active/inactive vent fields in the Indian Ocean. The helium concentrations and isotopic ratios in these ore samples are variable (4He: 0.09–2.42 × 10−8 cm3STP∙g−1; 3He: 0.06–3.28 × 10−13 cm3STP∙g−1; 3He/4He: 1.12–9.67 Ra) and generally greater than the modern atmosphere, but significantly lower than those in massive sulphides from the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise (EPR), especially for three Cu–Fe-rich samples from the ultramafic-hosted Tianzuo and Kairei vent fields. On the contrary, most of the SWIR sulphide deposits have somewhat higher 40Ar/36Ar ratios of trapped fluids (ranging from 290.6 to 303.4) when compared to the EPR ore samples. Moreover, the majority of sulphide minerals from the Indian Ocean have much higher δ34S values (3.0‰–9.8‰, ~5.9 on average, n = 49) than other basaltic-hosted active hydrothermal systems on the EPR. Overall, these He–Ar–S results are well within the range of seafloor massive sulphide deposits at global sediment-starved mid-ocean ridges (MORs), lying between those of air-saturated water (ASW) and mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) end members. Therefore, our study suggests that the helium was derived mainly from the MORB mantle by degassing during the high-temperature stage of hydrothermal activity, as well as from a mixture of vent fluids with variable amounts of ambient seawater during either earlier or late-stage low-temperature hydrothermal episodes, whereas the argon in ore-forming fluids trapped within sulphide minerals was predominantly derived from deep-sea water. Additionally, relatively high δ34S values exhibit a great estimated proportion (up to nearly 40%) of seawater-derived components. In summary, sub-seafloor extensive fluid circulation, pervasive low-temperature alteration, shallow seawater entrainment, and mixing processes, may make a larger contribution to the SWIR hydrothermal ore-forming systems, compared to fast-spreading centres. View Full-Text
Keywords: He-Ar-S isotopes; massive sulphides; hydrothermal fluids; Southwest Indian Ridge He-Ar-S isotopes; massive sulphides; hydrothermal fluids; Southwest Indian Ridge

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Wang, Y.; Wu, Z.; Sun, X.; Deng, X.; Guan, Y.; Xu, L.; Huang, Y.; Cao, K. He–Ar–S Isotopic Compositions of Polymetallic Sulphides from Hydrothermal Vent Fields along the Ultraslow-Spreading Southwest Indian Ridge and Their Geological Implications. Minerals 2018, 8, 512.

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