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 basemetal 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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