Mapping the Earth's mantle in 4D using the proton microprobe

W. L. Griffin, C. G. Ryan*, T. T. Win

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The CSIRO proton microprobe is used to study the trace element chemistry of garnet and chromite grains recovered from kimberlites and other volcanic rocks, both to develop new diamond exploration methods and to further understanding of the makeup and evolution of the earth's upper mantle. Analysis of the partitioning of trace and major elements between garnet and chromite and their coexisting phases in mantle rocks has led to the development of two single-mineral thermometers and a barometer. Trace Ni in Cr-pyrope garnet is used to determine the equilibration temperature (TNi) of each garnet grain. This is the temperature of the garnet in its source rock before it was entrained in the erupting magma. Similarly, trace Zn in chromite yields an estimate (TZn) of its equilibration temperature. To relate these temperature to depth in the lithosphere a measure of pressure (PCr) has been developed that estimates pressure directly from Cr-pyrope garnet composition and TNi. This breakthrough enables the information on rock composition and metasomatic processes held in the trace and major element chemistry of each garnet to be located in P and T and thus placed in its stratigraphic context. Y, Ga and Cr provide information on mantle depletion by partial melting. Zr, Y and Ti provide clues to metasomatic processes such as infiltration of asthenospheric melts. Together the result is both an improved diamond exploration tool and a method of mapping the 3D structure, lithology and metasomatic processes in the lithosphere. With the added knowledge of the date of each intrusion, these methods permit the construction of 4D maps of the lithosphere, charting variation in mantle composition both laterally, with depth and through time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-463
Number of pages8
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


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