Sphalerite Composition in Relation to Deposition and Metamorphism of the Foss Stratiform Ba-Zn-Pb Deposit, Aberfeldy, Scotland

Norman R. Moles
Grant Institute of Geology, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW

Abstract: Sphalerite is a common constituent of the mineralized rocks and host metasediments of the Foss baryte-base metal deposit, located near Aberfeldy in the central Scottish Highlands. Microprobe analyses of sphalerite show a wide range in minor element content (0–17 mol. % FeS, 0–3 mol. % MnS), and sphalerites of contrasting composition are often found in the same rock. This suggests that equilibrium domains in some rocks were minute (< 1 mm), during regional metamorphism. Pressures derived from the selective application of the sphalerite geobarometer are consistent with other mineralogical evidence of peak metamorphic pressures in the range 7–10 kbar, at 540–580 °C. However, there is considerable evidence of partial retrograde re-equilibration of sphalerite, by continued buffering with pyrite+ pyrrhotine and by outward diffusion of iron. Marginal depletion of Fe and Mn in sphalerite within coarse carbonate rocks is attributed to partitioning reactions following recrystallization. Sphalerite which has retained its pre-metamorphic composition shows systematic variations in composition through profiles of mineralized beds, which may be related to depositional environments. Bimodal primary compositions can be explained by precipitation of zinc sulphides under the contrasting chemical environments of hydrothermal vents and cooler, exhaled brine layers on the sea floor.

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1983 v. 47; no. 345; p. 487-500; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1983.047.345.10
© 1983, The Mineralogical Society
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