Metamorphic remobilization of arsenopyrite-rich ores is a globally important process which can lead to significant concentrations of gold. In order to understand this and related processes, relations of sulphur isotopes can give a number of important clues. To resolve such relations in detail, we have successfully calibrated and applied a laser combustion system for in situ analysis of sulphur isotopic compositions of arsenopyrite. Experimental calibration of the laser fractionation factor (+0.4‰) was obtained by using compositionally and isotopically homogeneous natural samples from ore deposits at Boliden (Sweden) and Freiberg (Germany); subsequent to detailed microscopic study, the S isotope ratios of these samples were measured by conventional and laser combustion techniques. The present application to different types of arsenopyrite in the Palaeoproterozoic metamorphosed VHMS ores of the Boliden Au–Cu–As deposit, Skellefte district, northern Sweden, shows that the sulphur isotope composition of arsenopyrite is essentially unmodified during medium-grade metamorphic recrystallization and remobilization. Here, massive arsenopyrite ore is crosscut by later veins that carry a complex quartz–sulphosalt–sulphide assemblage. The latter ore type is markedly Au-rich compared to the host ore, and thus of significant economic interest. We find that both ore types exhibit very similar sulphur isotope compositions, ca. +2‰ to +3‰ (V-CDT), which is similar to most massive sulphide deposits in the Skellefte district. Thus, the crosscutting Au-rich vein ore has inherited the sulphur isotope composition from sulphur liberated by metamorphic reactions affecting the massive ore, and most likely also inherited the Au through this mechanism. The latter finding clearly has important implications both for the general discussion on, and the prospecting for, similar high-grade Au ores in this world-class mining region.
Ore Geology Reviews – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2004
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