Abstract

Massive-sulfide deposits rich in zinc and silver were recovered from the Juan de Fuca Ridge 500 km west of Oregon in September 1981. The samples recovered are composed largely of zinc sulfide, with lesser amounts of iron, lead, and copper sulfide. Most of the deposits occur at a series of hydrothermal vents within a relatively continuous depression in the center of a smooth 1-km-wide valley along the ridge axis. The depression appears to be formed by collapse of a lava lake possibly modified by extensional faulting. The axial valley floor outside the depression is underlain by fresh, glassy, ferrobasalt sheet and lobate flows. Two types of sulfide-mineral deposits were dredged from one of the hydrothermal vents: (1) angular slabs of dark-gray zinc sulfide; and (2) subrounded fragments of porous light-gray zinc sulfide. The samples contain fresh sphalerite, zoned wurtzite, pyrite, and minor amounts of marcasite, galena, and chalcopyrite-cubanite. The spreading rate of the Juan de Fuca Ridge and the composition of the sulfide samples are generally similar to the East Pacific Rise lat 21° N site; however, the texture and geologic setting of the sulfide deposits are significantly different.

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