Diamonds in the Attawapiskat area of the Superior craton (Canada)

Evidence for a major diamond-forming event younger than 1.1 Ga

K. V. Smit, T. Stachel, R. A. Stern

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Here, we compare nitrogen aggregation characteristics and carbon isotopic compositions in diamonds from Mesoproterozoic (T1) and Jurassic (U2) kimberlites in the Attawapiskat area-the first diamond-producing area on the Superior craton. The T1 kimberlite sampled diamonds from the lithospheric mantle at 1.1 Ga, at the same time as the major Midcontinent Rift event. These diamonds have a narrow range in δ13C (mode of -3.4 ‰), with compositions that overlap other diamond localities on the Superior craton. Some diamond destruction must have occurred during the Mesoproterozoic in response to the thermal impact of the Midcontinent Rift-the associated elevated geotherm caused a narrow diamond window (<30 km) close to the base of the lithosphere, compared to a wide diamond window of ~85 km following thermal relaxation (sampled by Jurassic kimberlites, such as U2). T1 diamonds have highly aggregated nitrogen, possibly due to the thermal effect of the rift. Diamond-favourable conditions were re-established in the lithospheric mantle after the thermal impact of the Midcontinent Rift dissipated. The poorly aggregated nature of nitrogen in U2 diamonds-compared to highly aggregated nitrogen in diamonds from T1-indicates that renewed diamond formation must have occurred only after the thermal impact of the Midcontinent Rift at 1.1 Ga had subsided and that these newly formed diamonds were subsequently sampled by Jurassic kimberlites. The overall δ13C distribution for U2 diamonds is distinct to T1 and other Superior diamonds, further suggesting that U2 diamonds are not related to the older pre-rift diamonds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • δC
  • Attawapiskat
  • Diamond
  • Lithospheric mantle
  • Nitrogen aggregation
  • Superior

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