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Sulfur radical species form gold deposits on Earth

Abstract : Current models of the formation and distribution of gold deposits on Earth are based on the long-standing paradigm that hydrogen sulfide and chloride are the ligands responsible for gold mobilization and precipitation by fluids across the lithosphere. Here we challenge this view by demonstrating, using in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy and solubility measurements, coupled with molecular dynamics and thermodynamic simulations, that sulfur radical species, such as the trisulfur ion S-3(-), form very stable and soluble complexes with Au+ in aqueous solution at elevated temperatures (>250 degrees C) and pressures (>100 bar). These species enable extraction, transport, and focused precipitation of gold by sulfur-rich fluids 10-100 times more efficiently than sulfide and chloride only. As a result, S-3(-) exerts an important control on the source, concentration, and distribution of gold in its major economic deposits from magmatic, hydrothermal, and metamorphic settings. The growth and decay of S-3(-) during the fluid generation and evolution is one of the key factors that determine the fate of gold in the lithosphere.
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Submitted on : Monday, March 7, 2016 - 1:25:12 PM
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Gleb S. Pokrovski, Maria A. Kokh, Damien Guillaume, Anastassia Y. Borisova, Pascal Gisquet, et al.. Sulfur radical species form gold deposits on Earth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 2015, 112 (44), pp.13484-13489. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1506378112⟩. ⟨hal-01284137⟩



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