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Minerals 2018, 8(7), 302;

Insights into Extinct Seafloor Massive Sulfide Mounds at the TAG, Mid-Atlantic Ridge

National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
Environmental Science Centre, British Geological Survey, Nicker Hill, Keyworth NG12 5GG, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 May 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 4 July 2018 / Published: 18 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deep-Sea Minerals and Gas Hydrates)
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Over the last decade there has been an increasing interest in deep-sea mineral resources that may contribute to future raw metal supply. However, before seafloor massive sulfides (SMS) can be considered as a resource, alteration and weathering processes that may affect their metal tenor have to be fully understood. This knowledge cannot be obtained by assessing the surface exposures alone. Seafloor drilling is required to gain information about the third dimension. In 2016, three extinct seafloor massive sulfide mounds, located in the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge were drilled. A mineralogical and textural comparison of drill core and surface-grab samples revealed that in recent ceased mounds high-temperature copper assemblages typical for black smoker chimneys are still present whereas in longer extinct mounds the mineralogy is pre-dominated by an iron mineral assemblage. Zinc becomes remobilized early in the mound evolution and forms either a layer in the upper part of the mound or has been totally leached from its interior. Precipitation temperatures of sphalerite calculated using the Fe/Zn ratio can help to identify these remobilization processes. While the Fe/Zn ratios of primary sphalerites yield temperatures that are in very good agreement with fluid temperatures measured in white smokers, calculated temperatures for sphalerites affected by remobilization are too high for SMS. Overall drilling of SMS provides valuable information on the internal structure and mineralogy of the shallow sub-surface, however, additional drilling of SMS, at a greater depth, is required to fully understand the processes affecting SMS and their economic potential. View Full-Text
Keywords: extinct seafloor massive sulfides; drilling; TAG hydrothermal area; Mid-Atlantic Ridge extinct seafloor massive sulfides; drilling; TAG hydrothermal area; Mid-Atlantic Ridge

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Lehrmann, B.; Stobbs, I.J.; Lusty, P.A.; Murton, B.J. Insights into Extinct Seafloor Massive Sulfide Mounds at the TAG, Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Minerals 2018, 8, 302.

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