Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 221–231 | Cite as

Oxygen isotopes composition of sapphires from the French Massif Central: implications for the origin of gem corundum in basaltic fields

  • Gaston Giuliani
  • Anthony Fallick
  • Daniel Ohnenstetter
  • Guy Pegere


Alluvial and colluvial gem sapphires are common in the basaltic fields of the French Massif Central (FMC) but sapphire-bearing xenoliths are very rare, found only in the Menet trachytic cone in Cantal. The O-isotope composition of the sapphires ranges between 4.4 and 13.9‰. Two distinct groups have been defined: the first with a restricted isotopic range between 4.4 and 6.8‰ (n = 22; mean δ18O = 5.6 ± 0.7‰), falls within the worldwide range defined for blue-green-yellow sapphires related to basaltic gem fields (3.0 < δ18O < 8.2‰, n = 150), and overlaps the ranges defined for magmatic sapphires in syenite (4.4 < δ18O < 8.3‰, n = 29). A second group, with an isotopic range between 7.6 and 13.9‰ (n = 9), suggests a metamorphic sapphire source such as biotite schist in gneisses or skarns. The δ18O values of 4.4–4.5‰ for the blue sapphire-bearing anorthoclasite xenolith from Menet is lower than the δ18O values obtained for anorthoclase (7.7–7.9‰), but suggest that these sapphires were derived from an igneous reservoir in the subcontinental spinel lherzolitic mantle of the FMC. The presence of inclusions of columbite-group minerals, pyrochlore, Nb-bearing rutile, and thorite in these sapphires provides an additional argument for a magmatic origin. In the FMC lithospheric mantle, felsic melts crystallized to form anorthoclasites, the most evolved peraluminous variant of the alkaline basaltic melt. The O-isotopic compositions of the first group suggests that these sapphires crystallized from felsic magmas under upper mantle conditions. The second group of isotopic values, typified for example by the Le Bras sapphire with a δ18O of 13.9‰, indicates that metamorphic sapphires from granulites were transported to the surface by basaltic magma.


France French Massif Central Basalt Oxygen isotopes Sapphires 



We thank L. Groat for constructive review and an anonymous reviewer for critical recommendations, as well as B. Lehmann and R. P. Moritz for helpful comments. The authors wish to thank Drs. J-P. Lorand, G. Carlier, and P.J. Chiappero from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris (UMR 7160) for providing samples from the Lacroix, Pascal, and Vésignié collections. We are also very grateful to Prof. Forestier, and Mr. Germain who supplied sapphires and xenolith samples from different localities of the French Massif Central. Thanks to Dr. Burnard (CRPG/CNRS) for English corrections. This work has been supported by IRD, CRPG/CNRS, and SUERC.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gaston Giuliani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anthony Fallick
    • 3
  • Daniel Ohnenstetter
    • 2
  • Guy Pegere
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (UR154), LMTGToulouseFrance
  2. 2.CRPG, Nancy-Université, CNRSVandœuvre-lès-NancyFrance
  3. 3.Isotope Geosciences UnitScottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East KilbrideGlasgowUK
  4. 4.BrioudeFrance

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