Origin of sub-lithospheric diamonds from the Juina-5 kimberlite (Brazil): constraints from carbon isotopes and inclusion compositions

A. R. Thomson*, S. C. Kohn, G. P. Bulanova, C. B. Smith, D. Araujo, EIMF, M. J. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Forty-one diamonds sourced from the Juina-5 kimberlite pipe in Southern Brazil, which contain optically identifiable inclusions, have been studied using an integrated approach. The diamonds contain <20 ppm nitrogen (N) that is fully aggregated as B centres. Internal structures in several diamonds revealed using cathodoluminescence (CL) are unlike those normally observed in lithospheric samples. The majority of the diamonds are composed of isotopically light carbon, and the collection has a unimodal distribution heavily skewed towards δ13C ~ −25 ‰. Individual diamonds can display large carbon isotope heterogeneity of up to ~15 ‰ and predominantly have isotopically lighter cores displaying blue CL, and heavier rims with green CL. The light carbon isotopic compositions are interpreted as evidence of diamond growth from abiotic organic carbon added to the oceanic crust during hydrothermal alteration. The bulk isotopic composition of the oceanic crust, carbonates plus organics, is equal to the composition of mantle carbon (−5 ‰), and we suggest that recycling/mixing of subducted material will replenish this reservoir over geological time. Several exposed, syngenetic inclusions have bulk compositions consistent with former eclogitic magnesium silicate perovskite, calcium silicate perovskite and NAL or CF phases that have re-equilibrated during their exhumation to the surface. There are multiple occurrences of majoritic garnet with pyroxene exsolution, coesite with and without kyanite exsolution, clinopyroxene, Fe or Fe-carbide and sulphide minerals alongside single occurrences of olivine and ferropericlase. As a group, the inclusions have eclogitic affinity and provide evidence for diamond formation at pressures extending to Earth’s deep transition zone and possibly the lower mantle. It is observed that the major element composition of inclusions and isotopic compositions of host Juina-5 diamonds are not correlated. The diamond and inclusion compositions are intimately related to subducted material and record a polybaric growth history across a depth interval stretching from the lower mantle to the base of the lithosphere. It is suggested that the interaction of slab-derived melts and mantle material combined with subsequent upward transport in channelised networks or a buoyant diapir explains the formation of Juina-5 diamonds. We conclude that these samples, despite originating at great mantle depths, do not provide direct information about the ambient mantle, instead, providing a snapshot of the Earth’s deep carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1081
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • carbon cycle
  • diamonds
  • sub-lithospheric mantle
  • subduction


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