Precipitation of Sulfide Ores and Organic Matter: Sulfate Reactions at Pine Point, Canada

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4644, pp. 63-66
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4644.63


Bitumen is a common associate of carbonate-hosted lead-zinc deposits. On the Pine Point lead-zinc property, Northwest Territories, Canada, there are two forms of bitumen. Unaltered bitumens have atomic hydrogen/carbon ratios of about 1.4, sulfur contents of about 7.8 percent, and sulfur isotope ratios (§34S) of approximately +4.6 per mil. Altered bitumens occur in proximity to sulfide ore bodies and white sparry dolomite. Their hydrogen/carbon ratios are about 1.02, the sulfur contents average 22 percent, and the §34S values are about +12.4 per mil. These data indicate that some bitumen has participated in the thermochemical reduction of sulfate to produce hydrogen sulfide required to precipitate the ores. Mass balance considerations show that the amount and degree of alteration of bitumen is more than adequate to account for the reduced sulfur species (lead, zinc, and iron sulfides) deposited at Pine Point. These reactions may provide an important means of generating the large volumes of sulfide necessary to precipitate ore bodies in carbonate rocks.