Multiple sulphur and iron isotope composition of detrital pyrite in Archaean sedimentary rocks: A new tool for provenance analysis
Multiple S ( δ34S and δ33S) and Fe ( δ56Fe) isotope analyses of rounded pyrite grains from 3.1 to 2.6 Ga conglomerates of southern Africa indicate their detrital origin, which supports anoxic surface conditions in the Archaean. Rounded pyrites from Meso- to Neoarchaean gold and uranium-bearing strata of South Africa are derived from both crustal and sedimentary sources, the latter being characterised by non-mass dependent fractionation of S isotopes ( ∆33S as negative as - 1.35‰) and large range of Fe isotope values ( δ56Fe between - 1.1 and 1.2‰). Most sediment-sourced pyrite grains are likely derived from sulphide nodules in marine organic matter-rich shales, sedimentary exhalites and volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits. Some sedimentary pyrite grains may have been derived from in situ sulphidised Fe-oxides, prior to their incorporation into the conglomerates, as indicated by unusually high positive δ56Fe values. Sedimentary sulphides without significant non-mass dependent fractionation of S isotopes were also present in the source of some conglomerates. The abundance in these rocks of detrital pyrite unstable in the oxygenated atmosphere may suggest factors other than high pO 2 as the cause for the absence of significant non-mass dependent fractionation processes in the 3.2-2.7 Ga atmosphere. Rounded pyrites from the c. 2.6 Ga conglomerates of the Belingwe greenstone belt in Zimbabwe have strongly fractionated δ34S, ∆33S and δ56Fe values, the source of which can be traced back to black shale-hosted massive sulphides in the underlying strata. The study demonstrates the utility of combined multiple S and Fe isotope analyses for provenance reconstruction of Archaean sedimentary successions.