Primary and secondary barites from hydrothermal mineralizations in SW Germany were investigated, for the first time, by a combination of strontium (Sr) isotope systematics (87Sr/86Sr), Sr contents and δ34S values to distinguish fluid sources and precipitation mechanisms responsible for their formation. Barite of Permian age derived its Sr solely from crystalline basement rocks, whereas all younger barite also incorporate Sr from formation waters of the overlying sediments. In fact, most of the Sr in younger barite is leached from Lower and Middle Triassic sediments.
In contrast, most of the sulfur (S) of Permian, Jurassic and northern Schwarzwald Miocene barite originated from basement rocks. The S source of Upper Rhinegraben (URG)-related Paleogene barite differs depending on geographic position: for veins of the southern URG, it is the Oligocene evaporitic sequence, while central URG mineralizations derived its S from Middle Triassic evaporites.
Using Sr isotopes of barite of known age combined with estimates on the Sr contents and Sr isotopic ratios of the fluids' source rocks, we were able to quantify mixing ratios of basement-derived fluids and sedimentary formation waters for the first time. These calculations show that Jurassic barite formed by mixing of 75–95% ascending basement-derived fluids with 5–25% sedimentary formation water, but that only 20–55% of the Sr was brought by the basement-derived fluid to the depositional site. Miocene barite formed by mixing of an ascending basement-derived brine (60–70%) with 30–40% sedimentary formation waters. In this case, only 8–15% of the Sr was derived from the deep brine. This fluid-mixing calculation is an example for deposits in which the fluid source is known. This method applied to a greater number of deposits formed at different times and in various geological settings may shed light on more general causes of fluid movement in the Earth's crust and on the formation of hydrothermal ore deposits.