Characterisation of primary and secondary carbonates in hypabyssal kimberlites: an integrated compositional and Sr-isotopic approach

Abstract

Carbonates in fresh hypabyssal kimberlites worldwide have been studied to understand their origin [i.e. primary magmatic (high T) versus deuteric (‘low T’) versus hydrothermal/alteration (‘low T’)] and identify optimal strategies for petrogenetic studies of kimberlitic carbonates. The approach presented here integrates detailed textural characterisation, cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging, in situ major- and trace-element analysis, as well as in situ Sr-isotope analysis. The results reveal a wide textural diversity. Calcite occurs as fine-grained groundmass, larger laths, segregations, veins or as a late crystallising phase, replacing olivine or early carbonates. Different generations of carbonates commonly coexist in the same kimberlite, each one defined by a characteristic texture, CL response and composition (e.g., variable Sr and Ba concentrations). In situ Sr isotope analysis revealed a magmatic signature for most of the carbonates, based on comparable 87Sr/86Sr values between these carbonates and the coexisting perovskite, a robust magmatic phase. However, this study also shows that in situ Sr isotope analysis not always allow distinction between primary (i.e., magmatic) and texturally secondary carbonates within the same sample. Carbonates with a clear secondary origin (e.g., late-stage veins) occasionally show the same moderately depleted 87Sr/86Sr ratios of primary carbonates and coexisting perovskite (e.g., calcite laths-shaped crystals with 87Sr/86Sr values identical within uncertainty to those of vein calcite in the De Beers kimberlite). This complexity emphasises the necessity of integrating detailed petrography, geochemical and in situ Sr isotopic analyses for an accurate interpretation of carbonate petrogenesis in kimberlites. Therefore, the complex petrogenesis of carbonates demonstrated here not only highlights the compositional variability of kimberlites, but also raises concerns about the use of bulk-carbonate C-O isotope studies to characterise the parental melt compositions. Conversely, our integrated textural and in situ study successfully identifies the most appropriate (i.e. primary) carbonates for providing constraints on the isotopic parameters of parental kimberlite magmas.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge provision of samples from the Ekati mine by BHP Billiton, and permission obtained from Dominion Diamond Mines ULC to publish our results. We also acknowledge Petra Diamonds for access to samples from Cullinan and Wesselton. We thank Jock Robey for his invaluable help during field work in the Kimberley area, and the De Beers Group for granting access to the Benfontein farm. Stuart Graham and Simon Shee are thanked for providing the Melita sample, and Steve Sparks for his collection of Wesselton Water Tunnel Sill kimberlites. The De Beers and Jagersfontein samples were sourced from the John J. Gurney Upper Mantle Room Collection at the University of Cape Town; kimberlites from Finland were generously provided by Hugh O’Brien. We would also like to thank Ashton Soltys for his help in sample selection and preparation; Manal Bebbington for her help with the preparation of the thin sections at Macquarie University; as well as Juan Diego Martín for his guidance in the use of the CL system at the University of Barcelona (UB). The authors also wish to acknowledge Xavier Llovet and Eva Prats for their assistance with EMPA and SEM analysis at the Serveis Científico-Tècnics (UB); as well as Yoann Gréau, Sarah Gain, Rosanna Murphy, Yi-Jen Lai and Hadrien Henry, for their help with the SEM, LA-ICP-MS and LA-MC-ICP-MS analysis at Macquarie University GeoAnalytical (MQGA). Constructive comments from the editor Bruce Kjarsgaard, and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved this work. This research was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to AG (grant DE-150100009); as well as funds from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems (CE110001017). This study used instrumentation funded by ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) and.

Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) Systemic Infrastructure Grants, Macquarie University, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) AuScope and Industry. This is contribution 1184 from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems (CCFS) and 1240 in the ARC National Key Centre for Geochemical Evolution and Metallogeny of Continents (GEMOC).

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Castillo-Oliver, M., Giuliani, A., Griffin, W.L. et al. Characterisation of primary and secondary carbonates in hypabyssal kimberlites: an integrated compositional and Sr-isotopic approach. Miner Petrol 112, 555–567 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00710-018-0626-3

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Keywords

  • Carbonate in kimberlites
  • Kimberlite petrography
  • In situ Sr isotope analysis
  • Cathodoluminescence