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Trace and minor elements in sphalerite: A LA-ICPMS study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 01:49 authored by Cook, NJ, Ciobanu, CL, Pring, A, Skinner, W, Shimizu, M, Leonid Danyushevsky, Saini-Eidukat, B, Melcher, F
Sphalerite is an important host mineral for a wide range of minor and trace elements. We have used laser-ablation inductively Coupled mass spectroscopy (LA-ICPMS) techniques to investigate the distribution of Ag, As. Bi, Cd, Co, Cu. Fe, Ga. Ge, In, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Sri and TI in samples from 26 ore deposits, including specimens with wt.% levels of Mn, Cd, In, Sri and Hg. This technique provides accurate trace element data, confirming that Cd, Co, Ga, Ge, In, Mn, Sri, As and TI are present in solid solution. The concentrations of most elements vary over several orders of magnitude between deposits and in some cases between single samples from a given deposit. Sphalerite is characterized by a specific range of Cd (typically 0.2-1.0 wt.%) in each deposit. Higher Cd concentrations are rare; spot analyses on samples from skarn at Baisoara (Romania) show Lip to 13.2 wt.% (Cd2+ <-> Zn2+ Substitution). The LA-ICPMS technique also allows for identification of other elements, notably Pb, Sb and Bi, mostly as micro-inclusions of minerals carrying those elements, and not as solid solution. Silver may occur both as solid Solution and as micro-inclusions. Sphalerite can also incorporate minor amounts of As and Se, and possibly Au (e.g., Magura epithermal An, Romania). Manganese enrichment (up to similar to 4 wt.%) does not appear to enhance incorporation of other elements. Sphalerite from Toyoha (Japan) features superimposed zoning. Indium-sphalerite (Lip to 6.7 wt.% In) coexists with Sn-sphalerite (up to 2.3 wt.%). Indium concentration correlates with Cu. corroborating coupled (Cu+In3+) <-> 2Zn(2+) substitution. Tin. however, correlates with Ag, suggesting (2Ag(+)Sn(4+)) <-> 3 Zn2+ Coupled substitution. Germanium-bearing sphalerite from Tres Marias (Mexico) contains several hundred ppm Ge, correlating with Fe. We see no evidence of coupled substitution for incorporation of Ge. Accordingly, we postulate that Ge may be present its Ge2+ rather than Ge4+. Trace element concentrations in different deposit types vary because fractionation of a given element into sphalerite is influenced by crystallization temperature, metal Source and the amount of sphalerite in the ore. Epithermal and some skarn deposits have higher concentrations of most elements in solid solution. The presence of discrete minerals containing I it, Ga, Ge, etc. also contribute to the observed variance in measured concentrations within sphalerite.


Publication title

Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta










School of Natural Sciences


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Zinc ore exploration

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