In this study, we use micro-X-ray absorption near-edge structures (μ-XANES) spectroscopy at the S K-edge to investigate the oxidation state of S in natural magmatic-hydrothermal apatite (Durango, Mexico, and Mina Carmen, Chile) and experimental apatites crystallized from volatile-saturated lamproitic melts at 1000 °C and 300 MPa over a broad range of oxygen fugacities [( log(fO2)=FMQ, FMQ+1.2, FMQ+3; FMQ = fayalite-magnetite-quartz solid buffer]. The data are used to test the hypothesis that S oxidation states other than S6+ may substitute into the apatite structure. Peak energies corresponding to sulfate S6+ (~2482 eV), sulfite S4+ (~2478 eV), and sulfide S2− (~2470 eV) were observed in apatite, and the integrated areas of the different sulfur peaks correspond to changes in fO2 and bulk S content. Here, multiple tests confirmed that the S oxidation state in apatite remains constant when exposed to the synchrotron beam, at least for up to 1 h exposure (i.e., no irradiation damages). To our knowledge, this observation makes apatite the first mineral to incorporate reduced (S2−), intermediate (S4+), and oxidized (S6+) S in variable proportions as a function of the prevailing fO2 of the system.

Apatites crystallized under oxidizing conditions (FMQ+1.2 and FMQ+3), where the S6+/STotal peak area ratio in the coexisting glass (i.e., quenched melt) is ~1, are dominated by S6+ with a small contribution of S4+, whereas apatites crystallizing at reduced conditions (FMQ) contain predominantly S2−, lesser amounts of S6+, and possibly traces of S4+. A sulfur oxidation state vs. S concentration analytical line transect across hydrothermally altered apatite from the Mina Carmen iron oxide-apatite (IOA) deposit (Chile) demonstrates that apatite can become enriched in S4+ relative to S6+, indicating metasomatic overprinting via a SO2-bearing fluid or vapor phase. This XANES study demonstrates that as the fO2 increases from FQM to FMQ+1.2 to FMQ+3 the oxidation state of S in igneous apatite changes from S2− dominant to S6+ > S4+ to S6+ >> S4+. Furthermore, these results suggest that spectroscopic studies of igneous apatite have potential to trace the oxidation state of S in magmas. The presence of three S oxidations states in apatite may in part explain the non-Henrian partitioning of S between apatite and melt. Our study reveals the potential to use the S signature of apatite to elucidate both oxygen and sulfur fugacity in magmatic and hydrothermal systems.

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