IDENTIFYING the palaeogeographic setting and mode of origin of stratabound ore deposits can be difficult in high-grade metamorphic terranes, where the effects of metamorphism may obscure the nature of the protoliths. Here we report boron isotope data for tourmalines from the early Proterozoic Broken Hill block, in Australia, which hosts giant lead-zinc-silver sulphide deposits. With one exception the 11B/10B ratios are lower than those for all other tourmalines from massive sulphide deposits and tour-malinites elsewhere in the world. We propose that these low ratios reflect leaching of boron from non-marine evaporitic borates by convecting hydrothermal fluids associated with early Proterozoic continental rifting. A possible modern analogue is the Salton Sea geothermal field in California. ?? 1989 Nature Publishing Group.