Insights to magmatic–hydrothermal processes in the Manus back-arc basin as recorded by anhydrite

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Craddock, Paul R.
Bach, Wolfgang
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Microchemical analyses of rare earth element (REE) concentrations and Sr and S isotope ratios of anhydrite are used to identify sub–seafloor processes governing the formation of hydrothermal fluids in the convergent margin Manus Basin, Papua New Guinea. Samples comprise drill–core vein anhydrite and seafloor massive anhydrite from the PACMANUS (Roman Ruins, Snowcap and Fenway) and SuSu Knolls (North Su) active hydrothermal fields. Chondrite–normalized REE patterns in anhydrite show remarkable heterogeneity on the scale of individual grains, different from the near uniform REEN patterns measured in anhydrite from mid–ocean ridge deposits. The REEN patterns in anhydrite are correlated with REE distributions measured in hydrothermal fluids venting at the seafloor at these vent fields and are interpreted to record episodes of hydrothermal fluid formation affected by magmatic volatile degassing. 87Sr/86Sr ratios vary dramatically within individual grains between that of contemporary seawater and that of endmember hydrothermal fluid. Anhydrite was precipitated from a highly variable mixture of the two. The intra–grain heterogeneity implies that anhydrite preserves periods of contrasting hydrothermal– versus seawater–dominant near–seafloor fluid circulation. Most sulfate δ34S values of anhydrite cluster around that of contemporary seawater, consistent with anhydrite precipitating from hydrothermal fluid mixed with locally entrained seawater. Sulfate δ34S isotope ratios in some anhydrites are, however, lighter than that of seawater interpreted as recording a source of sulfate derived from magmatic SO2 degassed from underlying felsic magmas in the Manus. The range of elemental and isotopic signatures observed in anhydrite records a range of sub–seafloor processes including high–temperature hydrothermal fluid circulation, varying extents of magmatic volatile degassing, seawater entrainment and fluid mixing. The chemical and isotopic heterogeneity recorded in anhydrite at the inter– and intra–grain scale captures the dynamics of hydrothermal fluid formation and sub–seafloor circulation that is highly variable both spatially and temporally on timescales over which hydrothermal deposits are formed. Microchemical analysis of hydrothermal minerals can provide information about the temporal history of submarine hydrothermal systems that are variable over time and cannot necessarily be inferred only from the study of vent fluids.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74 (2010): 5514-5536, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2010.07.004.
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