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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Occurrence and origin of anhydrite from Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 70, hole 504B, Coast Rica rift

  • Author(s): Alt, J. C.
  • Honnorez, J.
  • Hubberten, H.-W.
  • Saltzman, E.
  • et al.
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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

The first anhydrite reported from oceanic basalts occurs in altered basalts drilled during DSDP Leg 70 from Hole 504B. Anhydrite has been identified in several samples, two of which were studied in detail.

Anhydrite in Sample 504B-40-3 (130-135 cm), which was acquired at 310 meters sub-basement, occurs in a dolerite at the center of a vug rimmed by saponite and calcite. Red iron-hydroxide-rich alteration halos occur from 0 to 310 meters sub-basement; primary sulfides in these halos are oxidized, and the rocks have lost large amounts of sulfur. The anhydrite in this sample has a δ34S value of 18.5%O, and it is interpreted to have formed from a fluid containing a mixture of seawater sulfate (20.9%0) and basaltic sulfur (0%0) released during the oxidation of primary sulfides.

Anhydrite in Sample 504B-48-3 (14-18 cm), which was found at 376 meters sub-basement, occurs intergrown with gyrolite at the center of a 1-cm-wide vein that is rimmed by saponite and quartz. At sub-basement depths below 310 meters to the bottom of the Leg 70 section (562 m sub-basement), the rocks exhibit the effects of anoxic alteration with common secondary pyrite. Anhydrite in Sample 504B-48-3 (14-18 cm) has a δ34S value of 36.7%, and it is interpreted to have formed from seawater-derived fluids enriched in 34S through sulfate reduction. Temperatures of alteration calculated from oxygen isotope data range from 60 to 100°C. Sulfate reduction may have occurred in situ, or elsewhere at higher temperature, possibly deeper in the crust.

The secondary mineral paragenetic sequence indicates a progressive decrease in Mg and increase in Ca in the circulating fluids. This eventually led to anhydrite formation late in the alteration process.

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