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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 23, 2019

In situ measurements of lead and other trace elements in abyssal peridotite sulfides

Megan E. D’Errico, Matthew A. Coble and Jessica M. Warren
From the journal American Mineralogist


In the mantle, base metal sulfides have been proposed as the main host for many chalcophile and siderophile elements. This includes elements such as Pb, Se, and Te, which are often used as tracers of processes ranging from planetary accretion to mantle melting. We present in situ measurements of these elements, along with As, Sb, Ag, Au, and Cl, in abyssal peridotite sulfides to provide constraints on the storage of these elements in the mantle. A total of 152 sulfides from 11 peridotites and 1 pyroxenite from the Gakkel and Southwest Indian ridges were analyzed. The sulfides are pentlandites, some of which contain either discrete chalcopyrite domains or Cu-rich intergrowths. Trace-element concentrations in 108 unaltered sulfides range from 2 to 36 ppm Pb, 45 to 250 ppm Se, <4 to 360 ppm Te, <1.5 to 1900 ppm As, 2 to 420 ppm Sb, 2 to 340 ppm Ag, 2 to 770 ppb Au, and 0.2 to 1000 ppm Cl. Tellurium abundances are highly variable within sulfides, which is likely due to the presence of telluride micro- or nano-phases. Based on morphology, composition, and the absence of monosulfide solid solution, the sulfides are interpreted to have formed by fractional crystallization from sulfide melt during conductive cooling of the mantle beneath the ridge axis. The average sulfide Pb concentration of 4 ppm can be reproduced by >90% fractional crystallization from a sulfide melt. The remaining sulfide melt, which is modeled to contain 800 ppm Pb, will dissolve into silicate melt as it rises through the mantle due to the increasing solubility of sulfur in silicate melt as pressure decreases. However, the amount of sulfide melt that remains after fractional crystallization is too low (mode of <0.005%) to contribute a significant amount of Pb to mid-ocean ridge basalts. We conclude that sulfides are not the main host for mantle Pb, even prior to the onset of any melting, and that the majority of mantle Pb is stored in silicate phases.

  1. Funding This study was partially supported by a National Science Foundation grant to J.M.W. (OCE-1434199 and OCE-1620276).


We thank Jason Harvey, Sarah-Jane Barnes, James Brenan, and Leslie Hayden for sharing reference materials to calibrate ion probe measurements. Discussions with Sarah-Jane Barnes, Ambre Luguet, John Lassiter, Suzanne Birner, Kathryn Kumamoto, and Erik Hauri are greatly appreciated. Marty Grove is especially acknowledged for informal reviews of the paper and discussions of ion probe data quality. The Stanford-USGS Micro Analysis Center is thanked for instrument time, technical support, and scientific guidance. We are grateful to Kathy Barton for providing access to the SEM in her lab in the Department of Plant Biology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. We thank Dale Burns for measuring chlorine in sulfide by electron microprobe and Bob Jones for help with the electron microprobe measurements of sulfide major elements. Finally, we thank David van Acken and an anonymous reviewer for comments that improved the manuscript and Kate Kiseeva for editorial handling.

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Received: 2018-02-20
Accepted: 2018-11-02
Published Online: 2019-01-23
Published in Print: 2019-02-25

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston