Contrasting types of metasomatism in dunite, wehrlite and websterite xenoliths from Kimberley, South Africa

Tatjana Rehfeldt*, Stephen F. Foley, Dorrit E. Jacob, Richard W. Carlson, Dave Lowry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Dunite, wehrlite and websterite are rare members of the mantle xenolith suite in the Kimberley kimberlites of the Kaapvaal Craton in southern Africa. All three types were originally residues of extensive melt extraction and experienced varying amounts and types of melt re-enrichment. The melt depletion event, dated by Re–Os isotope systematics at 2.9 Ga or older, is evidenced by the high Mg# (Mg/(Mg + Fe)) of silicate minerals (olivine (0.89–0.93); pyroxene (0.88–0.93); garnet (0.72–0.85)), high Cr# (Cr/(Cr + Al)) of spinel (0.53–0.84) and mostly low whole-rock SiO2, CaO and Al2O3 contents. Shortly after melt depletion, websterites were formed by reaction between depleted peridotites and silica-rich melt (>60 wt% SiO2) derived by partial melting of eclogite before or during cratonization. The melt–peridotite interaction converted olivine into orthopyroxene. All three xenolith types have secondary metasomatic clinopyroxene and garnet, which occur along olivine grain boundaries and have an amoeboid texture. As indicated by the preservation of oxygen isotope disequilibrium in the minerals and trace-element concentrations in clinopyroxene and garnet, this metasomatic event is probably of Mesozoic age and was caused by percolating alkaline basaltic melts. This melt metasomatism enriched the xenoliths in CaO, Al2O3, FeO and high-field-strength-elements, and might correspond to the Karoo magmatism at 200 Ma. The websterite xenoliths experienced both the orthoyproxene-enrichment and clinopyroxene–garnet metasomatic events, whereas dunite and wehrlite xenoliths only saw the later basaltic melt event, and may have been situated further away from the source of melt migration channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5722-5756
Number of pages35
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


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