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Mineralogy and geochemistry of a sediment‐hosted hydrothermal sulfide deposit from the Southern Trough of Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California

May 14, 1985

Samples dredged from a 15‐m‐high hydrothermal mound atop the flat turbidite pond in the Southern Trough of Guaymas Basin consist of pyrrhotite‐rich massive sulfide, barite, barite + calcite, talc, and opaline silica as well as substrate material composed of fossiliferous, clay‐rich ooze. An 11‐m‐long sediment core taken near the dredge site shows increasing hydrothermal alteration with depth; anhydrite‐filled fractures near the base of the core appear to be channels for hydrothermal discharge. Oxidation of the sulfide‐rich samples to an assemblage of geothite, lepidocrocite, and amorphous Fe oxyhydroxide is ubiquitous. Compared to other massive sulfide deposits on sediment‐starved oceanic ridges, the hydrothermal deposit dredged in Guaymas Basin has a high pyrrhotite/pyrite ratio, a low Zn sulfide and combined ore metal (Cu + Zn + Pb + Ag + Cd) content, and a greater abundance of sulfate, carbonate, and silicate phases. Venting hydrothermal solutions are alkaline with moderately high pH; high Ca, Ba, and SiO2 content; low ƒS2 and ƒo2; and very low transition metal content. Disequilibrium assemblages of pyrrhotite and sulfate minerals form during rapid mixing of this evolved vent fluid with ambient bottom waters at the discharge site. Talc is formed at a temperature near 270°C by mixing or entrainment of Mg‐rich bottom water or pore fluid with upwelling hydrothermal fluid that is saturated with silica. Calcite may precipitate from the alkaline, Ca‐rich fluid during degassing of CO2. The minimum temperature range for sulfide and nonsulfide deposition is approximately 190°–326°C. The composition of hydrothermal deposits, vent solutions, and altered sediment requires that circulating fluids evolve during deep penetration into the basaltic basement complex, further interaction with the organic‐and carbonate‐rich sediment pile, and near‐surface mixing with ambient seawater. Although the stable assemblage albite‐epidote‐clinochlore present at depth in the sediment pile requires very low dissolved Mg and Fe in the altering fluid, the addition of Mg to deeply buried sediment indicates significant recharge of the system by Guaymas Basin bottom water.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1985
Title Mineralogy and geochemistry of a sediment‐hosted hydrothermal sulfide deposit from the Southern Trough of Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California
DOI 10.1029/JB090iB08p06695
Authors Randolph A. Koski, P.F. Lonsdale, Wayne C Shanks, M.E. Berndt, S. S. Howe
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Series Number
Index ID 70210125
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center