Bulk chemical analyses are performed for major and minor elements using a variety of techniques on a suite of 9 samples of sea floor massive sulfide deposits from 21?N EPR, Juan de Fuca Ridge and Galapagos Rift. Results indicate that deposits at 21?N and Juan de Fuca are very similar despite a geographic separation of 2300 km and are composed primarily of Zn, Fe, and S, with important minor concentrations of Ag, As, Cd and Ge. The Galapagos Rift massive sulfide is primarily Fe, Cu and S and with important minor contents of only Co and Mo. Au is low, ranging from below detection up to 0.17 ppm. Pt group metals are very low, and average about 0.001 ppm. Consideration of enrichment factors and relative metal abundance suggests that MORB is a sufficient source for all the metals enriched in the sea floor deposits.
The economically important metals for the 21?N and Juan de Fuca deposits are primarily Zn and Ag, (97%) with potential by-products of Cu, Cd and possibly, Ge. For the Galapagos Rift, the primary value is with Cu (86%) with potential by-products of Co and Mo. The Galapagos Rift deposit is similar to, but contains about twice the Cu content, of typical ore from the Skouriotisa mine of the Troodos complex of Cyprus. The grade of the 21?N/Juan de Fuca deposits is 4 times greater than that of the Galapagos Rift and about twice that of prime deep-sea manganese nodules.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Geochemistry and economic potential of massive sulfide deposits from the eastern Pacific Ocean