Gold speciation and transport in geological fluids: insights from experiments and physical-chemical modelling
Gleb S. Pokrovski, Nikolay N. Akinfiev, Anastassia Y. Borisova, Alexandre V. Zotov, Kalin Kouzmanov, 2014. "Gold speciation and transport in geological fluids: insights from experiments and physical-chemical modelling", Gold-Transporting Hydrothermal Fluids in the Earth’s Crust, P. S. Garofalo, J. R. Ridley
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This contribution provides an overview of available experimental, thermodynamic, and molecular data on Au aqueous speciation, solubility, and partitioning in major types of geological fluids in the Earth’s crust, from low-temperature aqueous solution to supercritical hydrothermal-magmatic fluids, vapours, and silicate melts. Critical revisions of these data allow generation of a set of thermodynamic properties of the AuOH, AuCl−2, AuHS, and Au(HS)−2 complexes dominant in aqueous hydrothermal solutions; however, other complexes involving different sulphur forms, chloride, and alkali metals may operate in high-temperature sulphur-rich fluids, vapours, and melts. The large affinity of Au for reduced sulphur is responsible for Au enrichment in S-rich vapours and sulphide melts, which are important gold sources for hydrothermal deposits. Thermodynamic, speciation, and partitioning data, and their comparison with Au and S contents in natural fluid inclusions from magmatic-hydrothermal gold deposits, provide new constraints on the major physical-chemical parameters (temperature, pressure, salinity, acidity, redox) and ubiquitous fluid components (sulphur, carbon dioxide, arsenic) affecting Au concentration, transport, precipitation, and fractionation from other metals in the crust. The availability and speciation of sulphur and their changes with the fluid and melt evolution are the key factors controlling gold behaviour in most geological situations.
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Gold-Transporting Hydrothermal Fluids in the Earth’s Crust
Hydrothermal ore deposits that are exploited for gold include both gold-only deposits, such as orogenic deposits, and gold-bearing examples of the common hydrothermal deposits types that are formed around upper-crustal magmatic centres, in particular porphyry and epithermal deposits. Fluid-inclusion data have shown that ore fluids of gold-only deposits are compositionally distinct compared to fluids of other deposit types. This Special Publication includes an up-to-date summary of thermodynamic parameters of aqueous Au species at high temperatures and pressures; a dataset of fluid inclusion properties and compositions from orogenic deposits of different parts of the world; several comprehensive case studies of different types of gold deposits and their fluids from USA, Brazil, Egypt, Slovakia and Bulgaria; and numerical modelling aimed to define key parameters that affect fluid flow and gold deposition at a range of scales.