Diamond formation: A stable isotope perspective

Pierre Cartigny, Médéric Palot, Emilie Thomassot, Jeff W. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Primarily on the basis of C, N, S, and O stable isotope systematics, this article reviews recent achievements in understanding diamond formation and growth in Earth's mantle. Diamond is a metasomatic mineral that results from either the reduction or oxidation of mobile C-bearing liquids (fluids or melts) that intrude preexisting lithologies (eclogites, peridotites, and metamorphic rocks). This process seems ubiquitous, as it occurs over a large range of depths and extends through time. Diamond-forming carbon derives mainly from the convective asthenosphere. Most of its isotopic anomalies reflect fractionation processes in the lithospheric mantle, which are attributed to diamond precipitation itself and/or a mineralogical control occurring prior to diamond precipitation. Evidence for a mineralogical control would be the decoupling of the 15N/14N ratios in eclogitic diamond from other tracers of subduction in inclusions in the same diamond. C isotope anomalies related to subduction are rare and are probably best seen in diamonds from the transition zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-732
Number of pages34
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical geodynamics
  • Diamond
  • Metasomatism
  • Stable isotopes
  • Subduction


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