Diamondites: evidence for a distinct tectono-thermal diamond-forming event beneath the Kaapvaal craton

Sami Mikhail, Francis McCubbin, Frances Jenner, Steve Shirey, Doug Rumble, Roxanne Bowden

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The petrogenesis and relationship of diamondite to well-studied monocrystalline and fibrous diamonds are poorly understood yet would potentially reveal new aspects of how diamond-forming fluids are transported through the lithosphere and equilibrate with surrounding silicates. Of 22 silicate- and oxide-bearing diamondites investigated, most yielded garnet intergrowths (n = 15) with major element geochemistry (i.e. Ca–Cr) classifying these samples as low-Ca websteritic or eclogitic. The garnet REE patterns fit an equilibrium model suggesting the diamond-forming fluid shares an affinity with high-density fluids (HDF) observed in fibrous diamonds, specifically on the join between the saline–carbonate end-members. The δ13C values for the diamonds range from − 5.27 to − 22.48‰ (V-PDB) with δ18O values for websteritic garnets ranging from + 7.6 to + 5.9‰ (V-SMOW). The combined C–O stable isotope data support a model for a hydrothermally altered and organic carbon-bearing subducted crustal source(s) for the diamond- and garnet-forming media. The nitrogen aggregation states of the diamonds require that diamondite-formation event(s) pre-dates fibrous diamond-formation and post-dates most of the gem monocrystalline diamond-formation events at Orapa. The modelled fluid compositions responsible for the precipitation of diamondites match the fluid-poor and fluid-rich (fibrous) monocrystalline diamonds, where all grow from HDFs within the saline-silicic-carbonatitic ternary system. However, while the nature of the parental fluid(s) share a common lithophile element geochemical affinity, the origin(s) of the saline, silicic, and/or carbonatitic components of these HDFs do not always share a common origin. Therefore, it is wholly conceivable that the diamondites are evidence of a distinct and temporally unconstrained tectono-thermal diamond-forming event beneath the Kaapvaal craton.
Original languageEnglish
Article number71
Number of pages15
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Early online date19 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Diamond
  • Mantle petrology
  • Volatile elements
  • Stable isotopes
  • Garnet
  • Geochemistry
  • Cratonic mantle


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