Abstract

Massive sulfide-sulfate deposits on the Southern Explorer Ridge were analyzed for 14 rare earth elements (REE) by a modified inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric technique that included a correction for high Ba content. Bulk samples of finely intermixed sulfides, sulfate, and amorphous silica contain ΣREE concentrations of ≤6 ppm. REE patterns range from (1) strongly enriched in light REE with positive Eu anomalies, to (2) relatively flat with positive Eu anomalies and slightly negative Ce anomalies, to (3) slightly enriched in light REE with moderately negative Ce anomalies. Pattern 1 is similar to that of 300-350 °C solutions discharging at vents on the East Pacific Rise and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, whereas pattern 3 resembles REE distributions in normal oceanic bottom waters. The sulfide-sulfate patterns are interpreted to result from variable mixtures of hydrothermal and normal seawater. Barite in gossans capping the mounds has an REE pattern almost identical to patterns of high-temperature vent solutions. Hydrothermal barite has lower REE contents and a different REE pattern relative to hydrogenous barite formed slowly on the sea floor.

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