Depth-related carbon isotope and nitrogen concentration variability in the mantle below the Orapa kimberlite, Botswana, Africa

Peter Deines*, J. W. Harris, J. J. Gurney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Cubic diamonds from the Orapa kimberlite have a very restricted δ13C range with a mean of -5.98 ± 0.57‰, a relatively high and constant nitrogen content 897 ± 171 ppm and low nitrogen aggregation state. They are thought to have been derived from shallow mantle depth. Diamonds with peridotitic inclusions (P-Type) range in δ13C between-4.2 and - 18.9‰ with a major mode between -5 and-7‰. Their nitrogen content is low and state of aggregation high. Pressure-temperature (P-T) equilibration conditions estimated for their inclusions are close to the wet peridotite solidus. Eclogitic inclusions in Orapa diamonds (E-Type) indicate higherP- T equilibration conditions than P-Type minerals. Theδ13C values of their hosts vary from -2.6 to-18.0%. with a major mode between -13 and -15‰. The nitrogen content of E-type diamonds is significantly higher than that of P-Type diamonds. Comparison of the mineral and carbon isotopic composition of Orapa diamond eclogites with those of E-Type diamonds indicates that only part of the E-Type diamonds could have been derived from a physical breakup of diamond eclogites. 13C-depleted E-Type diamonds and eclogite xenoliths with low δ13C diamonds were formed in a similar and restricted P-T range. An inclusion mineral paragenesis with compositions transitional between those of peridotitic and eclogitic minerals (websteritic, W-Type) has been recognized. It is characterized by a unique combination of a relatively high chrome and Fe content. The δ13C values of W-Type diamonds lie, with one exception (-6.9%.), in the range of -15.2 to -22.4‰. The nitrogen content of these diamonds is significantly lower than that of E-Type and is indistinguishable from that of P-Type diamonds. The P-T equilibration conditions estimated for them are similar to those of the peridotitic paragenesis. The collective data indicate a higher frequency of occurrence of 13C-depleted diamonds, a decrease in the N content of diamonds, and an increase in the N aggregation state with increasing mantle depth. The decline in N content is not monotonic however, because P-Type diamonds tend to have lower N contents than E-Type diamonds. The combined high chrome and Fe content of the websteritic diamond inclusions are very difficult to reconcile with a subduction origin of the low δ13C host and indicate that 13C-depleted C may be a primary mantle feature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2781-2796
Number of pages16
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


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