Introduction to Stable Isotope Applications in Hydrothermal Systems
Andrew R. Campbell, Peter B. Larson, 1998. "Introduction to Stable Isotope Applications in Hydrothermal Systems", Techniques in Hydrothermal Ore Deposits Geology, Jeremy P. Richards, Peter B. Larson
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Stable isotope and ore deposit studies have a long common history because many of the early developments in the application of stable isotopes to geological problems were from investigations of ore forming processes. Stable isotopes have now become an integral part of studying ore deposits. They provide information in four critical areas: (1) temperature of mineral deposition, (2) sources of the hydrothermal fluids, (3) sources of sulfur and carbon (and by extrapolation, metals), and (4) water-wall rock interactions. One of the most important roles that hydrogen and oxygen isotope studies have played is in the modern recognition that shallow, surface derived fluids are important components in many ore deposits. As stable isotope labs have become automated and the cost per analysis dropped, stable isotopes are also being used more commonly in mineral exploration. For example, isotopes can be used to define alteration halos and to aid in discriminating between mineralized and unmineralized quartz veins.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a basis for understanding and utilizing light stable isotope data in the study of ore deposits. No previous knowledge of stable isotope geochemistry is assumed. However, one must recognize that stable isotopes can seldom provide unequivocal answers by themselves, and thus must be used in conjunction with other geological, mineralogical, petrological, and geochemical data. In other words, the knowledge in this chapter needs to be integrated with the types of studies described in the other chapters in this book in order to make sound interpretations of stable isotope data.