Mineralizing conditions and source fluid composition of base metal sulfides in the Lon District, southeastern Iceland
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Hydrothermal base metal mineralization is rare in Iceland due to the scarcity of evolved magma bodies that discharge metal-rich aqueous fluids into bedrock. One exception is the Lon District of southeastern Iceland, where explosively emplaced rhyolitic breccias host base metal sulfide minerals. We performed petrographic, fluid inclusion, and stable isotope analyses on samples collected in Lon to constrain the conditions of sulfide mineral formation. Based on outcrop and hand sample observations, hot, early-stage hydrothermal fluids precipitated sulfide minerals, quartz, and epidote in rhyolitic breccia and basalt flows. Cooler late-stage fluids precipitated carbonates and quartz in rhyolitic breccia and basalt flows. The order of precipitation of the sulfides was: galena, sphalerite, then chalcopyrite. Homogenization temperatures of liquid-dominated multi-phase fluid inclusions in hydrothermal early-stage quartz coeval with chalcopyrite cluster around 303 °C and 330 °C, indicating precipitation of metallic sulfides in two main hydrothermal fluid pulses early in the period of hydrothermal activity in the Lon District. Freezing point depression analyses of fluid inclusions in quartz show that the sulfide minerals precipitated from a solution that was 4 wt. % NaCl. The 𝛿34S values of sulfides indicate that early-stage hydrothermal sulfur was derived from igneous rocks, either through leaching by non-magmatic hydrothermal fluids or by exsolution of magmatic waters. Early stage epidote 𝛿D values were on average -65.96 per mil, about 14 per mil higher than reported values in epidotes from elsewhere in southeastern Iceland. The 𝛿13C and 𝛿18O values of late-stage carbonates indicate that late stage hydrothermal fluids were meteoric in origin. Collectively, fluid inclusion and stable isotope analyses suggest that early-stage aqueous fluids derived from a mixture of magmatic waters exsolved from the proximal Geitafell intrusion and meteoric waters and that late-stage fluids were meteoric. This work provides insight into conditions of hydrothermal systems in early continents, which featured bimodal volcanism like that of Lon.