An essential role for sulfur in sulfide-silicate melt partitioning of gold and magmatic gold transport at subduction settings

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Li, Yuan
Feng, Lu
Kiseeva, Ekaterina S.
Gao, Zenghao
Guo, Haihao
Du, Zhixue
Wang, Fangyue
Shi, Lanlan
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Elsevier B.V.
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Sulfide-silicate melt partitioning controls the behavior of gold in magmas, which is critical for understanding the Earth's deep gold cycle and formation of gold deposits. However, the mechanisms that control the sulfide-silicate melt partitioning of gold remain largely unknown. Here we present constraints from laboratory experiments on the partition coefficient of gold between monosulfide-solid-solution (MSS) and silicate melt (DAuMSS/SM) under conditions relevant for magmatism at subduction settings. Thirty-five experiments were performed in Au capsules to determine DAuMSS/SM at 950-1050°C, 0.5-3 GPa, oxygen fugacity (fO2) of ∼FMQ-1.7 to FMQ+2.7 (FMQ refers to the fayalite-magnetite-quartz buffer), and sulfur fugacity (fS2) of −2.2 to 2.1, using a piston cylinder apparatus. The silicate melt composition changes from dry to hydrous andesite to rhyolite. The results obtained from electron microprobe and laser-ablation ICP-MS analyses show that the gold solubility in silicate melts ranges from 0.01 to 55.3 ppm and is strongly correlated with the melt sulfur content [S]melt at fO2 of ∼FMQ-1.7 to FMQ+1.6, which can be explained by the formation of complex Au-S species in the silicate melts. The gold solubility in MSS ranges from 130 to 2800 ppm, which is mainly controlled by fS2. DAuMSS/SM ranges from 10 to 14000 at fO2 of ∼FMQ-1.7 to FMQ+1.6, the large variation of which can be fully explained by combined [S]melt and fS2. Therefore, all of the parameters that can directly affect [S]melt and fS2, such as alkali metals, water, FeO, and fO2, can indirectly affect DAuMSS/SM. The mechanisms that control the sulfide-silicate melt partitioning of gold and the other chalcophile elements, such as Ni, Re, and Mo, differ significantly. This is because gold is dissolved mainly as Au-S species in the silicate melts, while the other chalcophile elements are dissolved mainly as metal oxides in the silicate melts. Applying the correlation between DAuMSS/SM and [S]melt to slab melting and arc magmatic differentiation under different redox conditions, we find that ancient to modern slab melts carry negligible to less than 25% of the slab gold to the subarc mantle; however, gold-enrichment can occur in MSS-saturated arc magmas that have differentiated under moderately oxidized conditions with fO2 between FMQ and FMQ+1.6, in particular if the magmatic crystallization follows a fractional crystallization model. We conclude that moderately oxidized magmas with high contents of alkali metals, sulfur, and water, owing to their low DAuMSS/SM and efficient magma-to-fluid transfer of gold and sulfur, have a high potential to form gold deposits.
Gold , Sulfur , Sulfide , Silicate melt , Partition coefficient , Subduction zone
Li, Y., Feng, L., Kiseeva, E. S., Gao, Z., Guo, H., Du, Z., Wang, F. and Shi, L. (2019) 'An essential role for sulfur in sulfide-silicate melt partitioning of gold and magmatic gold transport at subduction settings', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 528, 115850. (12pp.) DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115850