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Strontium isotopes and rare-earth element geochemistry of hydrothermal carbonate deposits from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0016-7037(99)00294-x
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Geography


Abstract At Cape Banza (North Tanganyika Lake), fluids and aragonite chimneys have been collected many times since the discovery of this sublacustrine field in 1987. This sampling has been investigated here for the Sr isotopic compositions and the rare-earth element features of the carbonates and a few fluid samples. The 87Sr/ 86Sr ratios of the chimneys indicate that they have precipitated from a mixture of lake water (more than 95%) and hydrothermal fluids. No zoning in the chimneys was detected with our Sr data. For the rare-earth elements, the situation is more complex. The external walls of the chimneys are rare-earth-element-poor (La ≈ 500 ppb, Yb ≈ 200 ppb, La/Yb = 2 to 3.4). Their shale normalised rare-earth element patterns suggest that they are in equilibrium with the inferred carbonate-depositing fluids. The rare-earth element concentrations of the internal walls of the chimneys are significantly light rare earth elements (LREE)-enriched with La contents sometimes up to 5 ppm. We suggest that they contain more vent-fluid rare-earth elements than the external wall samples, possibly adsorbed on the surface of growing crystals or simply hosted by impurities. It was not possible to constrain the nature of these phases, but the variations of the compositions of the internal wall materials of the active chimneys with time, as well as data obtained on an inactive chimney indicate that this rare-earth element excess is mobile. Partition coefficients were calculated between the external wall aragonite and carbonate-depositing fluid. The results are strikingly similar to the values obtained by Sholkovitz and Shen (1995) on coral aragonite, and suggest that there is no significant biologic effect on the incorporation of rare-earth elements into coral aragonite and that the various carbonate complexes involved Me(CO 3 +) complexes are the main LREE carriers in seawater (Cantrell and Byrne, 1987) instead of Me(CO 3) 2 − in Banza fluids) have the same behaviour during aragonite precipitation.

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