Abstract

Recent studies of volcanogenic base metal sulfide deposits and of metalliferous sediments in the Red Sea indicate precipitation of iron and base metals under conditions varying from reducing to oxidizing, at or near sites of fumarolic brine emission onto the sea floor. Differing lithofacies of iron-rich sediments were apparently deposited penecontemporaneously, mainly in response to changing chemical, biological, and sedimentary lithofacies conditions.Iron-rich sediments associated with the cupriferous pyrite bodies of Cyprus have been studied to determine the behavior of Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni, Co, Cr, Sn, Mo, Ag, and Au, when these fumarolic brines enter the sea bottom environment. Variations in metal abundances and ratios indicate that rapidly changing Eh is a major factor controlling metal deposition on the sea floor. The Fe/Mn ratio in these sediments is a useful indicator of the amount of interaction of these fumarolic brines and normal oxygenated sea water. Results suggest that zinc, copper, and gold are concentrated in the high Fe/Mn ratio proximal sediments; nickel is concentrated in the low Fe/Mn ratio distal sediments; and lead, silver, tin, and molybdenum are relatively unaffected by oxidation of the fumarolic brine solution by normal sea water.These concepts of sea floor deposition controlling the distribution of metals may also be applicable to other types of stratabound metalliferous deposits, like certain skarn, greisen, and gold ores, heretofore considered to be of epigenetic origin.

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