The opaque mineralogy and the contents and isotope compositions of sulfur in serpentinized peridotites from the MARK (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Kane Fracture Zone) area were examined to understand the conditions of serpentinization and evaluate this process as a sink for seawater sulfur. The serpentinites contain a sulfur-rich secondary mineral assemblage and have high sulfur contents (up to 1 wt.%) and elevated ??34Ssulfide (3.7 to 12.7???). Geochemical reaction modeling indicates that seawater-peridotite interaction at 300 to 400??C alone cannot account for both the high sulfur contents and high ??34Ssulfide. These require a multistage reaction with leaching of sulfide from subjacent gabbro during higher temperature (???400??C) reactions with seawater and subsequent deposition of sulfide during serpentinization of peridotite at ???300??C. Serpentinization produces highly reducing conditions and significant amounts of H2 and results in the partial reduction of seawater carbonate to methane. The latter is documented by formation of carbonate veins enriched in 13C (up to 4.5???) at temperatures above 250??C. Although different processes produce variable sulfur isotope effects in other oceanic serpentinites, sulfur is consistently added to abyssal peridotites during serpentinization. Data for serpentinites drilled and dredged from oceanic crust and from ophiolites indicate that oceanic peridotites are a sink for up to 0.4 to 6.0 ?? 1012 g seawater S yr-1. This is comparable to sulfur exchange that occurs in hydrothermal systems in mafic oceanic crust at midocean ridges and on ridge flanks and amounts to 2 to 30% of the riverine sulfate source and sedimentary sulfide sink in the oceans. The high concentrations and modified isotope compositions of sulfur in serpentinites could be important for mantle metasomatism during subduction of crust generated at slow spreading rates. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Additional publication details
Serpentinization of abyssal peridotites from the MARK area, Mid-Atlantic Ridge: Sulfur geochemistry and reaction modeling