The halogens Cl and Br are sensitive indicators for the origin of ore-forming fluids. Here, we use a combination of microchemical and microscopic methods to show that measurable concentrations of these elements commonly occur as atomic-scale substitutions in hydrothermal sphalerite. Furthermore, the Cl/Br ratios of halogen-rich sphalerites are indistinguishable from those of the corresponding ore-forming fluids. Thus, they record fluid compositions, which in turn record fluid origin. Given the abundance of sphalerite in hydrothermal base-metal deposits, as well as the relative ease of conducting in situ microchemical analyses, the halogen signature of sphalerite has the potential to become a sensitive proxy to distinguish between different ore-forming environments.

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