The S3 Ion Is Stable in Geological Fluids at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures

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Science  25 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6020, pp. 1052-1054
DOI: 10.1126/science.1199911

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The chemical speciation of sulfur in geological fluids is a controlling factor in a number of processes on Earth. The two major chemical forms of sulfur in crustal fluids over a wide range of temperature and pressure are believed to be sulfate and sulfide; however, we use in situ Raman spectroscopy to show that the dominant stable form of sulfur in aqueous solution above 250°C and 0.5 gigapascal is the trisulfur ion S3. The large stability range of S3 enables efficient transport and concentration of sulfur and gold by geological fluids in deep metamorphic and subduction-zone settings. Furthermore, the formation of S3 requires a revision of sulfur isotope–fractionation models between sulfides and sulfates in natural fluids.

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