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Yellow diamonds with colourless cores – evidence for episodic diamond growth beneath Chidliak and the Ekati Mine, Canada

Abstract

Yellow diamonds from the CH-7 (Chidliak) and the Misery (Ekati Mine) kimberlites in northern Canada are characterised for their nitrogen characteristics, visible light absorption, internal growth textures, and carbon isotope compositions. The diamonds are generally nitrogen-rich, with median N contents of 1230 (CH-7) and 1030 at.ppm (Misery). Normally a rare feature in natural diamonds, single substitutional nitrogen (C centres) and related features are detected in infrared absorption spectra of 64% of the studied diamonds from CH-7 and 87% from Misery and are considered as the major factor responsible for their yellow colouration. Episodically grown diamonds, characterised by colourless cores containing some nitrogen in the fully aggregated form (B centres) and yellow outer layers containing C centres, occur at both localities. Carbon isotope compositions and N contents also are significantly different in such core and rim zones, documenting growth during at least two temporally distinct events and involving different diamond forming fluids. Based on their nitrogen characteristics, both the yellow diamonds and yellow rims must have crystallized in close temporal proximity (<<1 Ma) to kimberlite activity at CH-7 and Misery.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Dominion Diamond Mines and Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. for the generous provision of diamonds for this study. Without the help of Jon Carlson, Kimberly Ferguson (both Dominion Diamond Mines), Herman Grütter and Jennifer Pell (both Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.), this study would not have been possible. We thank reviewers Eloïse Gaillou, Thomas Hainschwang and Yaakov Weiss, and editor Lutz Nasdala, for constructive comments that greatly improved the paper. MYL acknowledges a bursary through the Diamond Exploration Research Training School (DERTS) funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program. TS received additional funding for the project through an NSERC Discovery grant and the Canada Research Chairs program.

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Correspondence to Mei Yan Lai.

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Lai, M.Y., Stachel, T., Breeding, C.M. et al. Yellow diamonds with colourless cores – evidence for episodic diamond growth beneath Chidliak and the Ekati Mine, Canada. Miner Petrol 114, 91–103 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00710-020-00693-0

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Keywords

  • Yellow diamond
  • Colourless core
  • Episodically grown diamond
  • Centre
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Nitrogen concentration and aggregation states