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Pyrite trace element behavior in magmatic-hydrothermal environments: an LA-ICPMS imaging study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 20:10 authored by Jeffrey SteadmanJeffrey Steadman, Ross LargeRoss Large, Paul OlinPaul Olin, Leonid Danyushevsky, Sebastien MeffreSebastien Meffre, Huston, D, Fabris, A, Lisitsin, V, Wells, T
Trace elements in pyrite are increasingly being used in ore deposit exploration as a geochemical pathfinder to ore. This is because the trace element systematics of pyrite are sensitive to subtle changes in hydrothermal fluid composition and temperature. In this paper, we present LA-ICPMS trace element maps of pyrite from three styles of ore deposits related to magmatic-hydrothermal processes (epithermal Au-Ag, IOCG, and porphyry Cu-Au-Mo), showing the common geochemical characteristics of pyrite in each regime. Pyrite from porphyry Cu-Au-Mo and IOCG systems has high to very high amounts of Co (commonly ≥1000 ppm) but generally lower and variable Ni, As, and Se (<0.01 to > 1000 ppm). These four elements typically define oscillatory growth zonation patterns, reflecting fluctuations in fluid temperature and chemistry during crystal growth. The economic metals Cu, Au, and Mo are almost exclusively present as inclusions of Cu sulfides, native Au/electrum, Au-Ag tellurides, and molybdenite, respectively, which line or fill fractures in the pyrite crystals. In contrast, pyrite from epithermal Au-Ag systems is characterized by variable but generally low Co, Ni, and Se (i.e., <0.01 to 100 ppm), as well as high As (>1000 ppm). Gold and Ag are also generally high in pyrite from these systems, but unlike IOCG and porphyry-style pyrite they are predominantly deported in solid solution. Tellurium can either be low (0.01-10 ppm) or high (>100 ppm, not counting Au-Ag-Bi telluride inclusions), and other elements such as Sb can also be present in solid solution. This study highlights the importance of imaging mineral grains for elucidating growth history, defining mineral parageneses in hydrothermal systems, and providing key geological information for ore deposit genesis.


Australian Research Council

Alkane Exploration NL

AngloGold Ashanti Australia Limited

CMOC Mining Services Pty Ltd T/A Northparkes Mines

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Department of State Growth (Tas)

Emmerson Resources Limited

Evolution Mining

Geological Survey of New South Wales - Department of Industry

Geoscience Australia

Heron Resources Limited

New South Resources Limited

Rio Tinto Limited

Sandfire Resoures NL


Publication title

Ore Geology Reviews



Article number









School of Natural Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Copper ore exploration; Precious (noble) metal ore exploration

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    University Of Tasmania