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Osmium isotopic constraints on sulphide formation in the epithermal environment of magmatic-hydrothermal mineral deposits

Saintilan, Nicolas J.; Sproson, Adam D.; Selby, David; Rottier, Bertrand; Casanova, Vincent; Creaser, Robert A.; Kouzmanov, Kalin; Fontboté, Lluís; Piecha, Matthias; Gereke, Manfred; Zambito, James J.

Osmium isotopic constraints on sulphide formation in the epithermal environment of magmatic-hydrothermal mineral deposits Thumbnail


Nicolas J. Saintilan

Adam D. Sproson

David Selby

Bertrand Rottier

Vincent Casanova

Robert A. Creaser

Kalin Kouzmanov

Lluís Fontboté

Matthias Piecha

Manfred Gereke

James J. Zambito


In the magmatic-hydrothermal environment, fluids with similar metal concentrations and sources may yield contrasting mineral assemblages in successive stages of sulphide mineralization. These differences are linked to the physico-chemical conditions of the mineralizing fluids (e.g., T, pH, fS2, fO2) acquired during their interaction with country rocks and/or by mixing with groundwater. Here, we integrate petrography and osmium (Os) isotope (187Os/188Os) sulphide geochemistry, and discuss novel constraints on magmatic fluid-rock interaction and magmatic fluid-groundwater mixing that are deemed to govern sulphide deposition in magmatic-hydrothermal systems. We studied pyrite (FeS2) and enargite (Cu3AsS4) from the porphyry-related polymetallic Cerro de Pasco (14.54–14.41 Ma) and Colquijirca (10.83–10.56 Ma) epithermal deposits in the Central Andes, Peru. Sulphide mineralization is genetically associated with Miocene magmatism and includes breccia and replacement bodies of carbonate country rocks, and veins cutting the magmatic and sedimentary country rocks. At both deposits, pyrite is followed by enargite in the paragenesis. Pyrite has a radiogenic initial 187Os/188Os isotopic composition (187Os/188Osi-pyrite or Osi-pyrite = 0.80 to 1.45). Enargite (I) enclosing pyrite or filling in cracks in pyrite also has a radiogenic initial 187Os/188Os isotopic composition (Osi-enargite I = 0.56 to 1.24). Conversely, enargite (II) that formed on irregular surfaces on earlier pyrite has an unradiogenic 187Os/188Os isotopic composition (Osi-enargite II = 0.13 to 0.17). Our data show that the paragenetic evolution from pyrite to enargite records a sharp change in the osmium isotope composition within these sulphides. Pyrite and enargite (I) record radiogenic initial 187Os/188Os isotopic compositions, indicating interaction of magmatic hydrothermal fluids with the sedimentary country rocks. However, the unradiogenic initial 187Os/188Os isotopic composition of enargite (II) suggests that magmatic fluids with a mantle-like 187Os/188Os signature ascended from parental magmatic chambers to the epithermal environment without incorporation of crustal Os via fluid-rock interaction or mixing with groundwater. This difference may be due to the country rocks being altered during previous stages, with the radiogenic crustal Os signature being flushed by earlier magmatic pulses. Our findings imply that ore metals (i.e., Cu, Au) are magma-derived, whereas the Os isotopic composition of pyrite and some enargite in epithermal deposits may capture the signature of the interaction of magmatic fluids with country rock lithologies (e.g., the Eifelian black shale in the study area) and/or groundwater. Thus, the isotopic composition of the siderophile and chalcophile trace element Os in sulphides may act as a tracer of metal source, and degree of wall-rock interaction.


Saintilan, N. J., Sproson, A. D., Selby, D., Rottier, B., Casanova, V., Creaser, R. A., …Zambito, J. J. (2021). Osmium isotopic constraints on sulphide formation in the epithermal environment of magmatic-hydrothermal mineral deposits. Chemical Geology, 564, Article 120053.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 31, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 14, 2021
Publication Date Mar 20, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Apr 27, 2021
Journal Chemical Geology
Print ISSN 0009-2541
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 564
Article Number 120053


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