, Volume 73, Issue 6, pp 717-735
Date: 10 Feb 2011

The influence of complex intra- and extra-vent processes on facies characteristics of the Koala Kimberlite, NWT, Canada: volcanology, sedimentology and intrusive processes

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Abstract

The Koala kimberlite, Northwest Territories, Canada, is a small pipe-like body that was emplaced into the Archean Koala granodiorite batholith and the overlying Cretaceous to Tertiary sediments at ~53 Ma. Koala is predominantly in-filled by a series of six distinct clastic deposits, the lowermost of which has been intruded by a late stage coherent kimberlite body. The clastic facies are easily distinguished from each other by variations in texture, and in the abundance and distribution of the dominant components. From facies analysis, we infer that the pipe was initially partially filled by a massive, poorly sorted, matrix-supported, olivine-rich lapilli tuff formed from a collapsing eruption column during the waning stage of the pipe-forming eruption. This unit is overlain by a granodiorite cobble-boulder breccia and a massive, poorly sorted, mud-rich pebbly-sandstone. These deposits represent post-eruptive gravitational collapse of the unstable pipe walls and mass wasting of tephra forming the crater rim. The crater then filled with water within which ~20 m of non-kimberlitic, wood-rich, silty sand accumulated, representing up to 47,000 years of quiescence. The upper two units in the Koala pipe are both olivine rich and show distinct grain-size grading. These units are interpreted to have been deposited sub-aqueously, from pyroclastic flows sourced from one or more other kimberlite volcanoes. The uppermost units in the Koala pipe highlight the likelihood that some kimberlite pipes may be only partially filled by their own eruptive products at the cessation of volcanic activity, enabling them to act as depocentres for pyroclastic and sedimentary deposits from the surrounding volcanic landscape. Recognition of these exotic kimberlite deposits has implications for kimberlite eruption and emplacement processes.

Editorial responsibility: J. McPhie