Hydrothermal ore-forming processes in the light of studies in rock- buffered systems: I. Iron-copper-zinc-lead sulfide solubility relations

Economic Geology
By: , and 



Experimental studies, using cold-seal and extraction vessel techniques, were conducted on Fe, Pb, Zn, and Cu sulfide solubilities in chloride solutions at temperatures from 300 degrees to 700 degrees C and pressures from 0.5 to 2 kbars. The solutions were buffered in pH by a quartz monzonite and the pure potassium feldspar-muscovite-quartz assemblage and in f (sub S 2 ) - f (sub O 2 ) largely by the assemblage pyrite-pyrrhotite-magnetite. Solubilities increase with increasing temperature and total chloride, and decrease with increasing pressure. The rise in solubility is particularly steep between 300 degrees and 500 degrees C and between 1,000 and 500 bars. With increasing temperature at any given pressure, or with decreasing pressure at any given temperature, metal solubility eventually passes through a maximum due to increasing competition for chloride by the alkali, hydrogen, and base metal ions and because intersection with a two-fluid region eventually occurs. In that portion of the two-fluid region encountered in the study, metal solubilities in the brine were very high, but solubilities in the gas phase also were significant. In a system controlled by the potassium feldspar-muscovite-quartz buffer, 1-m total Cl (super -) , and the assemblage pyrite-pyrrhotite-magnetite-sphalerite-galena-chalcopyrite, solubilities in ppm at 1 kbar and 300 degrees , 400 degrees , and 500 degrees C were 237, 1,216, and 5,636, for Fe; 51, 613, and 3,105 for Pb; 36, 423, and 2,649 for Zn; and 11, 40, and 113 for Cu, respectively. At 400 degrees C, 0.5 and 2 kbars, the values were 2,627 and 500 for Fe; 1,262 and 194 for Pb; 983 and 120 for Zn; and 60 and 29 for Cu, respectively. All of the above were in the single-fluid region. Single-metal solubilities also were investigated to assess the influence of iron on the solubility of the other metals and to corroborate preliminary dissociation constants for the metal chloride complexes involved. The effect of increasing chloride concentration on solubility reflects primarily a shift to lower pH via the silicate buffer reactions. The effect of decreasing pressure reflects primarily the relative change in the dissociation constants of the chloride complexes involved. Increasing sulfur fugacity lowers solubility, but in systems controlled at relatively low values by an f (sub S 2 ) buffer or wall-rock sulfidation reactions, solutions of high metal content relative to reduced sulfur will tend to develop at high chloride concentrations. Similarity in behavior with respect to the temperature and pressure of Fe, Zn, and Pb sulfide solubilities points to similarity in chloride speciation, and the neutral species appear to be dominant in the high-temperature region. At 500 degrees C and 1 kbar, the log K D values for FeCl degrees 2 , PbCl degrees 2 , ZnCl degrees 2 , and CuCl degrees are, respectively, -8.76, -9.14, -10.86, and -6.22.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrothermal ore-forming processes in the light of studies in rock- buffered systems: I. Iron-copper-zinc-lead sulfide solubility relations
Series title Economic Geology
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.87.1.1
Volume 87
Issue 1
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher Society of Economic Geologists
Contributing office(s) Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 22 p.
First page 1
Last page 22
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