Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 339–352 | Cite as

Mercury isotope constraints on the source for sediment-hosted lead-zinc deposits in the Changdu area, southwestern China

  • Chunxia Xu
  • Runsheng Yin
  • Jiantang Peng
  • James P. Hurley
  • Ryan F. Lepak
  • Jianfeng Gao
  • Xinbin Feng
  • Ruizhong Hu
  • Xianwu Bi


The Lanuoma and Cuona sediment-hosted Pb-Zn deposits hosted by Upper Triassic limestone and sandstone, respectively, are located in the Changdu area, SW China. Mercury concentrations and Hg isotopic compositions from sulfide minerals and potential source rocks (e.g., the host sedimentary rocks and the metamorphic basement) were investigated to constrain metal sources and mineralization processes. In both deposits, sulfide minerals have higher mercury (Hg) concentrations (0.35 to 1185 ppm) than the metamorphic basement rocks (0.05 to 0.15 ppm) and sedimentary rocks (0.02 to 0.08 ppm). Large variations of mass-dependent fractionation (3.3‰ in δ202Hg) and mass-independent fractionation (0.3‰ in Δ199Hg) of Hg isotopes were observed. Sulfide minerals have Hg isotope signatures that are similar to the hydrothermal altered rocks around the deposit, and similar to the metamorphic basement, but different from barren sedimentary rocks. The variation of ∆199Hg suggests that Hg in sulfides was mainly derived from the underlying metamorphic basement. Mercury isotopes could be a geochemical tracer in understanding metal sources in hydrothermal ore deposits.


Mercury isotope Geochemical tracer Sediment-hosted lead-zinc deposit Changdu area 



This research was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (2015CB452603, 2009CB421005) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41303014). We thank Dr. Zhonggen Li and Dr. Buyun Du for helping with THg concentration analysis. Also, Dr. Nengping Shen and Dr. Jiehua Yang are acknowledged for their aid with field sampling. We acknowledge the USGS Wisconsin Mercury Research Lab and Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene for the use of their lab space and multicollector ICP-MS for the determination of stable Hg isotopes. Dr. Bernd Lehmann and several anonymous reviewers are thanked for their constructive comments that have largely improved the quality of this paper.

Supplementary material

126_2017_743_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 25 kb).


  1. Bergquist BA, Blum JD (2007) Mass-dependent and independent fractionation of Hg isotopes by photoreduction in aquatic systems. Science 318:417–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergquist BA, Blum JD (2009) The odds and evens of mercury isotopes, applications of mass-dependent and mass-independent isotope fractionation. Elements 5:353–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blum JD, Anbar AD (2010) Mercury isotopes in the late Archean Mount McRae Shale. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 74:A98–A98Google Scholar
  4. Blum JD, Bergquist BA (2007) Reporting of variations in the natural isotopic composition of mercury. Anal Bioanal Chem 388:353–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blum JD, Sherman LS, Johnson MW (2014) Mercury isotopes in earth and environmental sciences. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 42:249–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouhlel S, Leach DL, Johnson CA, Marsh E, Salmi-Laouar S, Banks DA (2016) A salt diapir-related Mississippi Valley-type deposit: the Bou Jaber Pb-Zn-Ba-F deposit, Tunisia: fluid inclusion and isotope study. Mineral Deposita 51:1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buchachenko AL (2001) Magnetic isotope effect: nuclear spin control of chemical reactions. J Phys Chem A 105:9995–10011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen J, Hintelmann H, Feng X, Dimock B (2012) Unusual fractionation of both odd and even mercury isotopes in precipitation from Peterborough, ON, Canada. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 90:33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chi Q (2004) Abundance of mercury in crust, rocks and loose sediment. Geochimica 33:641–648 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  10. Das R, Salters VJ, Odom AL (2009) A case for in vivo mass-independent fractionation of mercury isotopes in fish. Geochem Geophy Geosy 10:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deloule E, Allegre CJ, Doe BR (1986) Lead and sulfur isotope microstratigraphy in galena crystals from Mississippi Valley-type deposits. Econ Geol 81:1307–1321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Du D, Luo J, Li X (1997) Sedimentary evolution and palaeogeography of the Qamdo Block in Xizang. Sediment Facies Palaeogeogr 17:1–17 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  13. Estrade N, Carignan J, Sonke JE, Donard OFX (2009) Mercury isotope fractionation during liquid–vapor evaporation experiments. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 73:2693–2711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Estrade N, Carignan J, Donard OF (2010) Isotope tracing of atmospheric mercury sources in an urban area of northeastern France. Environ Sci Technol 44:6062–6067CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feng D (2006) Evaluation report on Lanuoma lead-zinc polymetallic deposit, Changdu basin, Tibet. Institute of Geological Survey of Tibet Autonomous Region (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Feng X, Foucher D, Hintelmann H, Yan H, He T, Qiu G (2010) Tracing mercury contamination sources in sediments using mercury isotope compositions. Environ Sci Technol 44:3363–3368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foucher D, Ogrinc N, Hintelmann H (2009) Tracing mercury contamination from the Idrija mining region (Slovenia) to the Gulf of Trieste using Hg isotope ratio measurements. Environ Sci Technol 43:33–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gantner N, Hintelmann H, Zheng W, Muir DC (2009) Variations in stable isotope fractionation of Hg in food webs of Arctic lakes. Environ Sci Technol 43:9148–9154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ghosh S, Schauble EA, Couloume GL, Blum JD, Bergquist BA (2013) Estimation of nuclear volume dependent fractionation of mercury isotopes in equilibrium liquid–vapor evaporation experiments. Chem Geol 336:5–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goldhaber MB, Church SE, Doe BR, Aleinikoff JN, Brannon JC, Podosek FA, Mosier EL, Taylor CD, Gent CA (1995) Lead and sulfur isotope investigation of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks from the southern midcontinent of the United States; implications for paleohydrology and ore genesis of the Southeast Missouri lead belts. Econ Geol 90:1875–1910CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grammatikopoulos TA, Valeyev O, Roth T (2006) Compositional variation in Hg-bearing sphalerite from the polymetallic Eskay Creek deposit. British Columbia, Canada Chem Erde-Geochem 66:307–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gratz LE, Keeler GJ, Blum JD, Sherman LS (2010) Isotopic composition and fractionation of mercury in Great Lakes precipitation and ambient air. Environ Sci Technol 44:7764–7770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. He L, Song Y, Chen K, Hou Z, Yu F, Yang Z, Wei J (2009) Thrust-controlled, sediment-hosted, Himalayan Zn–Pb–Cu–Ag deposits in the Lanping foreland fold belt, eastern margin of Tibetan Plateau. Ore Geol Rev 36:106–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hintelmann H, Lu S (2003) High precision isotope ratio measurements of mercury isotopes in cinnabar ores using multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Analyst 128:635–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hintelmann H, Zheng W (2012) Tracking geochemical transformations and transport of mercury through isotope fractionation. In: Liu G, Cai Y, O’driscoll N (eds) Environmental chemistry and toxicology of mercury. Wiley, New York, pp 293–327Google Scholar
  26. Hou Z, Cook NJ (2009) Metallogenesis of the Tibetan collisional orogen: a review and introduction to the special issue. Ore Geol Rev 36:2–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hou Z, Zaw K, Pan G, Mo X, Xu Q, Hu Y, Li X (2007) Sanjiang Tethyan metallogenesis in SW China: tectonic setting, metallogenic epochs and deposit types. Ore Geol Rev 31:48–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hou Z, Song Y, Zheng L, Wang Z, Yang Z, Yang Z (2008) Thrust-controlled, sediments-hosted Pb-Zn-Ag-Cu deposits in eastern and northern margins of Tibetan orogenic belt, geological features and tectonic model. Miner Depos 27:123–144 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  29. Jiskra M, Wiederhold JG, Skyllberg U, Kronberg RM, Hajdas I, Kretzschmar R (2015) Mercury deposition and re-emission pathways in boreal forest soils investigated with Hg isotope signatures. Environ Sci Technol 49:7188–7196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kesler SE, Cumming GL, Krstic D, Appold MS (1994) Lead isotope geochemistry of Mississippi Valley-type deposits of the southern Appalachians. Econ Geol 89:307–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krahn L, Baumann A (1996) Lead isotope systematics of epigenetic lead-zinc mineralization in the western part of the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge, Germany. Mineral Deposita 31:225–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leach DL, Sangste DF, Kelley KD, Large RR, Garven G, Allen CR, Gutzmer J, Walters S (2005) Sediment-hosted lead-zinc deposits, a global perspective. Econ Geol 100:561–607Google Scholar
  33. Leach DL, Bradley DC, Huston D, Pisarevsky SA, Taylor RD, Gardoll SJ (2010) Sediment-hosted lead-zinc deposits in Earth history. Econ Geol 105:593–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li Z, Feng X, He T (2005) Determination of total mercury in soil and sediment by aquaregia digestion in the water bath coupled with cold vapor atom fluorescence spectrometry. Bull China Soc Miner Petrol Geochem 24:140–143 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  35. Li C, Xie Y, Dong Y, Jiang G (2009) Discussion on the age of Jitang Group around Leiwuqi area, eastern Tibet, China and primary understanding. Geol Bull China 28:1178–1180 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  36. Moroskat M, Gleeson SA, Sharp RJ, Simonetti A, Gallagher CJ (2015) The geology of the carbonate-hosted Blende Ag–Pb–Zn deposit, Wernecke Mountains, Yukon, Canada. Mineral Deposita 50:83–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Peng Y, Wang M, Chen M (2000) The Qamdo-Riwoqe Triassic cratonic basin in eastern Xizang, sequence stratigraphy and correlation. Sediment Geol Tethyan Geol 20:62–67 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  38. Pribil MJ, Gray J, Van Metre P, Borrok D, Thapalia A (2010) Tracing anthropogenic contamination in a lake sediment core using Hg, Pb, and Zn isotopic compositions. 2010 GSA Denver Annual MeetingGoogle Scholar
  39. Radosavljević SA, Stojanović JN, Pačevski AM (2012) Hg-bearing sphalerite from the Rujevac polymetallic ore deposit, Podrinje Metallogenic District, Serbia: compositional variations and zoning. Chem Erde-Geochem 72:237–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rytuba JJ (2003) Mercury from mineral deposits and potential environmental impact. Environ Geol 43:326–338Google Scholar
  41. Schauble EA (2007) Role of nuclear volume in driving equilibrium stable isotope fractionation of mercury, thallium, and other very heavy elements. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 71:2170–2189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schwartz MO (1997) Mercury in zinc deposits: economic geology of a polluting element. Int Geol Rev 39:905–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sherlock RL, Tosdal RM, Lehrman NJ, Graney JR, Losh S, Jowett EC, Kesler SE (1995) Origin of the McLaughlin Mine sheeted vein complex; metal zoning, fluid inclusion, and isotopic evidence. Econ Geol 90:2156–2181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sherman LS, Blum JD, Nordstrom DK, McCleskey RB, Barkay T, Vetriani C (2009) Mercury isotopic composition of hydrothermal systems in the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field and Guaymas Basin sea-floor rift. Earth Planet Sci Lett 279:86–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Singer DA (1995) World class base and precious metal deposits—a quantitative analysis. Econ Geol 90:88–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith CN (2010) Isotope geochemistry of mercury in active and fossil hydrothermal systems. Dissertation, University of MichiganGoogle Scholar
  47. Smith CN, Kesler SE, Klaue B, Blum JD (2005) Mercury isotope fractionation in fossil hydrothermal systems. Geology 33:825–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith CN, Kesler SE, Blum JD, Rytuba JJ (2008) Isotope geochemistry of mercury in source rocks, mineral deposits and spring deposits of the California Coast Ranges, USA. Earth Planet Sci Lett 269:399–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Song Y, Hou Z, Yang T, Zhang H, Yang Z, Tian S, Liu Y, Wang X, Liu Y, Xue C (2011) Sediment-hosted Himalayan base metal deposits in Sanjiang region, characteristics and genetic types. Acta Petrol Mineral 30:355–380 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  50. Sonke JE (2011) A global model of mass independent mercury stable isotope fractionation. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 75:4577–4590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sonke JE, Schäfer J, Chmeleff J, Audry S, Blanc G, Dupré B (2010) Sedimentary mercury stable isotope records of atmospheric and riverine pollution from two major European heavy metal refineries. Chem Geol 279:90–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Spurlin MS, Yin A, Horton BK, Zhou J, Wang J (2005) Structural evolution of the Yushu-Nangqian region and its relationship to syncollisional igneous activity, east-central Tibet. Geol Soc Am Bull 117:1293–1317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tang J, Zhong K, Liu Z, Li Z, Dong S (2006) Intracontinent orogen and metallogenesis in Himalayan epoch, Changdu large composite basin, Eastern Tibet. Acta Geol Sin 80:1364–1376 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  54. Tang Y, Bi X, Yin R, Feng X, Hu R (2017) Concentrations and isotopic variability of mercury in sulfide minerals from the Jinding Zn-Pb deposit, Southwest China. Ore Geol Rev. doi: 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2016.12.009
  55. Tao Y (2012) Ore forming processes of Zn-Pb-Cu-Ag deposits in the Changdu Basin: mechanisms of elemental paragenesis, separation and super enrichment. Annual Report of National Basic Research Program (2009CB421005), Guiyang (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  56. Tao Y, Bi X, Xin Z, Zhu F, Liao M, Li Y (2011) Geology, geochemistry and origin of Lanuoma Pb–Zn–Sn deposit in Changdu area, Tibet. Miner Depos 30:599–615 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  57. Wilkinson JJ, Eyre SL, Boyce AJ (2005) Ore-forming processes in Irish-type carbonate-hosted Zn-Pb deposits: evidence from mineralogy, chemistry, and isotopic composition of sulfides at the Lisheen mine. Econ Geol 100:63–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yin R, Feng X, Shi W (2010) Application of the stable-isotope system to the study of sources and fate of Hg in the environment, a review. Appl Geochem 25:1467–1477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yin R, Feng X, Wang J, Li P, Liu J, Zhang Y, Chen J, Zheng L, Hu T (2013) Mercury speciation and mercury isotope fractionation during ore roasting process and their implication to source identification of downstream sediment in the Wanshan mercury mining area, SW China. Chem Geol 336:72–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yin R, Feng X, Chen J (2014) Mercury stable isotopic compositions in coals from major coal producing fields in China and their geochemical and environmental implications. Environ Sci Technol 48:5565–5574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yin R, Feng X, Hurley JP, Krabbenhoft DP, Lepak RF, Hu R, Zhang Q, Li Z, Bi X (2016) Mercury isotopes as proxies to identify sources and environmental impacts of mercury in sphalerites. Sci Rep 6:18686. doi: 10.1038/srep18686 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. York D (1968) Least squares fitting of a straight line with correlated errors. Earth Planet Sci Lett 5:320–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zhang H, Yin R, Feng X, Sommar J, Anderson CWN, Sapkota A, Fu X, Larssen T (2013) Atmospheric mercury inputs in montane soils increase with elevation: evidence from mercury isotope signatures. Sci Rep 3:3322. doi: 10.1038/srep03322 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zheng W, Hintelmann H (2009) Mercury isotope fractionation during photoreduction in natural water is controlled by its Hg/DOC ratio. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 73:6704–6715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zheng W, Hintelmann H (2010) Nuclear field shift effect in isotope fractionation of mercury during abiotic reduction in the absence of light. J Phys Chem A 114:4238–4245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zheng W, Foucher D, Hintelmann H (2007) Mercury isotope fractionation during volatilization of Hg(0) from solution into the gas phase. J Anal Atom Spectrom 22:1097–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chunxia Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Runsheng Yin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jiantang Peng
    • 1
  • James P. Hurley
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ryan F. Lepak
    • 3
  • Jianfeng Gao
    • 1
  • Xinbin Feng
    • 5
  • Ruizhong Hu
    • 1
  • Xianwu Bi
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Ore Deposit Geochemistry, Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Environmental Chemistry and Technology ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department at Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangChina

Personalised recommendations