Sulfide sulfur in mid-oceanic ridge hydrothermal vents is derived from leaching of basaltic-sulfide and seawater-derived sulfate that is reduced during high temperature water rock interaction. Conventional sulfur isotope studies, however, are inconclusive about the mass-balance between the two sources because 34S/32S ratios of vent fluid H2S and chimney sulfide minerals may reflect not only the mixing ratio but also isotope exchange between sulfate and sulfide. Here, we show that high-precision analysis of S-33 can provide a unique constraint because isotope mixing and isotope exchange result in different ??33S (?????33S-0.515 ??34S) values of up to 0.04??? even if ??34S values are identical. Detection of such small ??33S differences is technically feasible by using the SF6 dual-inlet mass-spectrometry protocol that has been improved to achieve a precision as good as 0.006??? (2??). Sulfide minerals (marcasite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite) and vent H2S collected from four active seafloor hydrothermal vent sites, East Pacific Rise (EPR) 9-10??N, 13??N, and 21??S and Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) 37??N yield ??33S values ranging from -0.002 to 0.033 and ??34S from -0.5??? to 5.3???. The combined ??34S and ??33S systematics reveal that 73 to 89% of vent sulfides are derived from leaching from basaltic sulfide and only 11 to 27% from seawater-derived sulfate. Pyrite from EPR 13??N and marcasite from MAR 37??N are in isotope disequilibrium not only in ??34S but also in ??33S with respect to associated sphalerite and chalcopyrite, suggesting non-equilibrium sulfur isotope exchange between seawater sulfate and sulfide during pyrite precipitation. Seafloor hydrothermal vent sulfides are characterized by low ??33S values compared with biogenic sulfides, suggesting little or no contribution of sulfide from microbial sulfate reduction into hydrothermal sulfides at sediment-free mid-oceanic ridge systems. We conclude that 33S is an effective new tracer for interplay among seawater, oceanic crust and microbes in subseafloor hydrothermal sulfur cycles. ?? 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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S-33 constraints on the seawater sulfate contribution in modern seafloor hydrothermal vent sulfides