On the possibility of a kinetic fractionation of nitrogen stable isotopes during natural diamond growth

Pierre Cartigny*, Jeff W. Harris, Andrew Taylor, Randi Davies, Marc Javoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


In a diamond from New South Wales (Australia), cubic and octahedral growth sectors, as identified by cathodoluminescence (CL), show slight differences in N-contents of 29 and 42 ppm respectively but no significant differences in either δ13C, δ15N and nitrogen aggregation state with values at +1.96‰, +19.4‰, and 25% Type IaAB aggregation, respectively. Two gem cubes from the Orapa kimberlite (Botswana) were studied by CL revealing a nonfaceted cubic growth. Accordingly, nine other gem cubes were combusted and yielded δ13C-values from -5.33‰ to -6.63‰, δ15N from -1.0‰ to -5.5‰, and nitrogen contents from 914 to 1168 ppm, with nitrogen aggregation state being only Type IaA (zero % B). The gem cubes show striking similarities to fibrous/coated diamonds, not only in both δ13C ranges (less than 3‰ from -5 to -8‰), but also in the high levels of nitrogen (≈ 1000 ppm), suggesting that the two diamond types are related. Additionally, no δ15N variation was detected between the cube and octahedral growth sectors of the Australian diamond, in the cube sectors of the nine gem cubes from Botswana, nor in fibrous/coated diamonds previously studied. These analyses contrast with an earlier study on a synthetic diamond, which reported a strong kinetic fractionation of N-isotopes of about 40‰ between cube and octahedral growth. The present evidence, therefore, suggests that kinetic fractionation of N-isotopes does not operate during natural diamond formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1576
Number of pages6
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


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