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Microbial control of silver mineralization at a sea-floor hydrothermal site on the northern Gorda Ridge

Nature

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Abstract

THE Sea Cliff hydrothermal field, on the northern Gorda Ridge, contains mounds and chimneys of hydrothermally precipitated sulphide and sulphate minerals typical of sea-floor hydrothermal vent sites1. In addition, large areas of the sea floor are covered by subhorizontal hydrothermal crusts. Samples of the crust recovered by submersible are composed of intensely altered fragments of basalt and basaltic hyaloclastite cemented by amorphous silica and chalcedony with less abundant barite, and minor amounts of base-metal sulphide minerals2. Some surfaces of the crust were formerly colonized by bacterial mats, which are locally preserved by replacement and overgrowth of the bacterial filaments by metal sulphide minerals and amorphous silica. The bacterial filaments are selectively replaced by prousite (Ag3AsS3), pearceite3 (Ag14.7-XCu1.3+xAs2S11), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) and rarely by galena (PbS). Our observations suggest that bacterially mediated processes selectively precipitate silver, arsenic and copper, and that biological processes may contribute to precious-metal enrichment in some sea-floor hydrothermal base-metal sulphide deposits.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Microbial control of silver mineralization at a sea-floor hydrothermal site on the northern Gorda Ridge
Series title:
Nature
Volume
348
Issue:
6297
Year Published:
1990
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Nature
First page:
155
Last page:
157
Number of Pages:
3