High-sulfidation (HS) epithermal systems have elements in common with passively degassing volcanoes associated with high T, acid fumarole fields or acid crater lakes. They are considered to form in two stages, the first of which involves advanced argillic alteration resulting from intense, strongly acidic fluid–rock interaction. The La Fossa hydrothermal system (Vulcano Island) represents a classic example of such an active HS system and can be considered as a modern analogue of this early stage of alteration, resulting in a core of intense silicic (90–95% pure SiO2) alteration surrounded by alunitic alteration zones. This paper focuses on a geochemical and stable isotope study of the surficial alteration facies of Vulcano – particularly the horizon characterized by strong silicic alteration – and on deep seated xenoliths ejected during the last eruption of La Fossa volcano (1888–90) that can be considered as representative of fragments of the deep conduit system of La Fossa volcano. Using directly measured temperatures at the sites of sampling, we have calculated fluid composition in isotopic equilibrium with the alteration products. The large range of measured silica δ18O (12.3 to 29‰) reflects the wide range of formation temperatures (80–240 °C). The fluid compositions calculated for intense silicic alteration vary from −0.9 to +6.5‰. These are significantly heavier than local meteoric water (−6‰), and are consistent with derivation from the condensation of high-temperature fumarolic gases, dominated by magmatic fluids and rich in acid gases (SO2, H2S, HCl, HF), into shallow groundwaters of meteoric origin, with dynamically variable ratios of fumarolic steam/meteoric water. The calculated δ18O and δD of water in equilibrium with alunite also suggest the mixing of magmatic and meteoric waters for the fluids involved in the genesis of advanced argillic alteration facies. The calculated δ18Oofwater in equilibrium with hedenbergitic clinopyroxene, found in a veinlet in ametasomatized xenolith is +8.9‰. This value cannot reasonably result from water–rock interaction between the host volcanic rocks and surface water. Instead, it most likely represents a fluid (brine) exsolved from magma, which was responsible for high temperature metasomatism in the deep conduit system. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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