Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Book Chapter

Light Stable Isotopes (H, B, C, O and S) in Ore Studies—Methods, Theory, Applications and Uncertainties


Huston,  David L.
External Organizations;
GFZ SIMS Publications, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;


Trumbull,  R.
3.1 Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry, 3.0 Geochemistry, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;
GFZ SIMS Publications, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Beaudoin,  Georges
External Organizations;
GFZ SIMS Publications, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Ireland,  Trevor
External Organizations;
GFZ SIMS Publications, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

External Ressource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in GFZpublic
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Huston, D. L., Trumbull, R., Beaudoin, G., Ireland, T. (2023): Light Stable Isotopes (H, B, C, O and S) in Ore Studies—Methods, Theory, Applications and Uncertainties. - In: Huston, D., Gutzmer, J. (Eds.), Isotopes in Economic Geology, Metallogenesis and Exploration, (Mineral Resource Reviews), Cham : Springer International Publishing, 209-244.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5022114
Variations in the abundances of light stable isotopes, particularly those of hydrogen, boron, carbon, oxygen and sulfur, were essential in developing mineralization models. The data provide constraints on sources of hydrothermal fluids, carbon, boron and sulfur, track interaction of these fluids with the rocks at both the deposit and district scales, and establish processes of ore deposition. In providing such constraints, isotopic data have been integral in developing genetic models for porphyry-epithermal, volcanic-hosted massive sulfide, orogenic gold, sediment-hosted base metal and banded-iron formation-hosted iron ore systems, as discussed here and in other chapters in this book. After providing conventions, definitions and standards used to present stable isotope data, this chapter summarizes analytical methods, both bulk and in situ, discusses processes that fractionate stable isotopes, documents the isotopic characteristics of major fluid and rock reservoirs, and then shows how stable isotope data have been used to better understand ore-forming processes and to provide vectors to ore. Analytical procedures, initially developed in the 1940s for carbon–oxygen analysis of bulk samples of carbonate minerals, have developed so that, for most stable isotopic systems, spots as small as a few tens of μm are routinely analyzed. This precision provides the paragenetic and spatial resolution necessary to answer previously unresolvable genetic questions (and create new questions). Stable isotope fractionation reflects geological and geochemical processes important in ore formation, including: (1) phase changes such as boiling, (2) water–rock interaction, (3) cooling, (4) fluid mixing, (5) devolatilization, and (6) redox reactions, including SO2 disproportionation caused by the cooling of magmatic-hydrothermal fluids and photolytic dissociation in the atmosphere. These processes commonly produce gradients in isotopic data, both in time and in space. These gradients, commonly mappable in space, provide not only evidence of process but also exploration vectors. Stable isotope data can be used to estimate the conditions of alteration or mineralization when data for coexisting minerals are available. These estimates use experimentally- or theoretically-determined fractionation equations to estimate temperatures of mineral formation. If the temperature is known from isotopic or other data (e.g., fluid inclusion data or chemical geothermometers), the isotopic composition of the hydrothermal fluid components can be estimated. If fluid inclusion homogenization and compositional data exist, the pressure and depth of mineralization can be estimated. One of the most common uses of stable isotope data has been to determine, or more correctly delimit, fluid and sulfur sources. Estimates of the isotopic compositions of hydrothermal fluids, in most cases, do not define unequivocal sources, but, rather, eliminate sources. As an example, the field of magmatic fluids largely overlap that of metamorphic fluids in δ18O-δD space, but are significantly different to the fields of meteoric waters and seawater. As such, a meteoric or seawater origin for a fluid source may be resolvable, but a magmatic source cannot be resolved from a metamorphic source. Similarly, although δ34S ~ 0‰ is consistent with a magmatic-hydrothermal sulfur source, the signature can also be produced by leaching of an igneous source. Recent analytical and conceptual advances have enabled gathering of new types of isotopic data and application of these data to resolve new problems in mineral deposit genesis and geosciences in general. Recent developments such as rapid isotopic analysis of geological materials or clumped isotopes will continue to increase the utility of stable isotope data in mineral deposit genesis and metallogeny, and, importantly, for mineral exploration.