Petrographic and melt-inclusion constraints on the petrogenesis of a magmaclast from the Venetia kimberlite cluster, South Africa

Adam Abersteiner*, Andrea Giuliani, Vadim S. Kamenetsky, David Phillips

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Kimberlitic magmaclasts are discrete ovoid magmatic fragments that formed prior to emplacement from disrupted kimberlite magma. To provide new constraints on the origin and evolution of the kimberlite melts, we document the mineralogy and petrography of a magmaclast recovered from one of the ca. 520 Ma Venetia kimberlites, South Africa. The sample (BI9883) has a sub-spherical shape and consists of a ~ 10 mm diameter central olivine macrocryst, surrounded by porphyritic kimberlite. The kimberlitic material consists of concentrically aligned, altered olivine phenocrysts, set in a crystalline groundmass of calcite, chromite, perovskite, phlogopite, apatite, ilmenite, titanite, sulphides, rutile and magnetite along with abundant alteration phases (i.e. serpentine, talc and secondary calcite). These features are typical of archetypal hypabyssal kimberlites.

We examined primary fluid/melt inclusions in chromite, perovskite and apatite containing a diversity of daughter phases. Chromite and perovskite host polycrystalline inclusions containing abundant alkali-carbonates (i.e. enriched in K, Na, Ba, Sr), phosphates, Na-K chlorides, sulphides and equal to lesser quantities of olivine, phlogopite and pleonaste. In contrast, apatite hosts polycrystalline assemblages with abundant alkali-carbonates and Na-K chlorides and lesser amounts of olivine, monticellite and phlogopite. Numerous solid inclusions of shortite (Na2Ca2(CO3)3), Na-Sr-carbonates and apatite occur in groundmass calcite along with fluid inclusions containing daughter crystals of Na-carbonates and Na-chlorides. The primary inclusions in chromite, perovskite and apatite are considered to represent remnants of fluid(s)/melt(s) trapped during crystallisation of the host minerals, whereas the fluid inclusions in calcite are probably secondary in origin. The component proportions of these primary fluid/melt inclusions were estimated in an effort to constrain the composition of the evolving kimberlite melt. These estimates suggest melt evolution from a silicate-carbonate kimberlite melt that became increasingly enriched in carbonates, phosphates, alkalis and chlorides, in response to the fractional crystallisation of constituent minerals (i.e. olivine to apatite).

The concentric alignment of crystals around the olivine kernel and ovoid shape of the magmaclast can be ascribed to the low viscosity of the kimberlite melt and rapid rotation whilst in a liquid or partial crystalline state, or to progressive layer-by-layer growth of the magmaclast. Although the mineralogy of our sample is similar to hypabyssal kimberlites worldwide, it differs from hypabyssal kimberlite units in the main Venetia pipes, which contain monticellite-phlogopite rich assemblages and segregationary matrix textures. Therefore magmaclast BI9883 probably originated from a batch of magma distinct from those that produced known hypabyssal units within the Venetia kimberlite cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-341
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2017


  • Kimberlite
  • Magmaclast
  • Melt inclusions
  • Alkali-carbonates
  • Venetia


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