Peridotitic diamonds from the Slave and the Kaapvaal cratons—similarities and differences based on a preliminary data set

Thomas Stachel*, Jeff W. Harris, Ralf Tappert, Gerhard P. Brey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


A comparison of the diamond productions from Panda (Ekati Mine) and Snap Lake with those from southern Africa shows significant differences: diamonds from the Slave typically are un-resorbed octahedrals or macles, often with opaque coats, and yellow colours are very rare. Diamonds from the Kaapvaal are dominated by resorbed, dodecahedral shapes, coats are absent and yellow colours are common. The first two features suggest exposure to oxidizing fluids/melts during mantle storage and/or transport to the Earth's surface, for the Kaapvaal diamond population. Comparing peridotitic inclusions in diamonds from the central and southern Slave (Panda, DO27 and Snap Lake kimberlites) and the Kaapvaal indicates that the diamondiferous mantle lithosphere beneath the Slave is chemically less depleted. Most notable are the almost complete absence of garnet inclusions derived from low-Ca harzburgites and a generally lower Mg-number of Slave inclusions. Geothermobarometric calculations suggest that Slave diamonds originally formed at very similar thermal conditions as observed beneath the Kaapvaal (geothermal gradients corresponding to 40–42 mW/m2 surface heat flow), but the diamond source regions subsequently cooled by about 100–150 °C to fall on a 37–38 mW/m2 (surface heat flow) conductive geotherm, as is evidenced from touching (re-equilibrated) inclusions in diamonds, and from xenocrysts and xenoliths. In the Kaapvaal, a similar thermal evolution has previously been recognized for diamonds from the De Beers Pool kimberlites. In part very low aggregation levels of nitrogen impurities in Slave diamonds imply that cooling occurred soon after diamond formation. This may relate elevated temperatures during diamond formation to short-lived magmatic perturbations. Generally high Cr-contents of pyrope garnets (inside and outside of diamonds) indicate that the mantle lithosphere beneath the Slave originally formed as a residue of melt extraction at relatively low pressures (within the stability field of spinelperidotites), possibly during the extraction of oceanic crust. After emplacement of this depleted, oceanic mantle lithosphere into the Slave lithosphere during a subduction event, secondary metasomatic enrichment occurred leading to strong re-enrichment of the deeper (>140 km) lithosphere. Because of the extent of this event and the occurrence of lower mantle diamonds, this may be related to an upwelling plume, but it may equally just reflect a long term evolution with lower mantle diamonds being transported upwards in the course of “normal” mantle convection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-503
Number of pages15
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Craton
  • Diamond
  • Geotherm
  • Inclusion
  • Kaapvaal
  • Peridotite
  • Slave


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