The diamonds of South Australia

Ralf Tappert*, John Foden, Thomas Stachel, Karlis Muehlenbachs, Michelle Tappert, Kevin Wills

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Diamonds in South Australia occur in kimberlites at Eurelia (Orroroo), and in placer deposits, which include the Springfield Basin and the historic Echunga goldfield. To identify the kimberlitic and mantle sources of the placer diamonds, and to determine any possible connections between the placer diamonds and the diamonds from the Eurelia kimberlites, we examined the physical and compositional characteristics, and the mineral inclusion content of 122 diamonds from the Springfield Basin and 43 diamonds from kimberlites at Eurelia. Additional morphological data for three Echunga diamonds are also given. Most of the diamonds from the Springfield Basin are similar to the diamonds from Eurelia with respect to their crystal shapes, surface textures, and colors. The diamond populations from both areas are characterized by a high abundance of low-nitrogen (< 100 ppm) diamonds with variable nitrogen aggregation states. The stable carbon isotope compositions of the Springfield Basin diamonds are similar to the Eurelia diamonds with δ13C values in the range - 20.0 to - 2.5‰, and a mode at - 6.5‰. Ferropericlase inclusions in two diamonds from the Springfield Basin are consistent with ferropericlase-bearing mineral inclusion assemblages found in the Eurelia diamonds and indicate that part of the diamond population from both areas is of sublithospheric origin. One diamond from the Springfield Basin contained an inclusion of lherzolitic garnet. The overall similarities between the Springfield Basin and Eurelia diamonds indicates that the bulk of the Springfield Basin diamonds are derived from kimberlitic sources that are similar (or identical) to those at Eurelia. However, three diamonds from the Springfield Basin are markedly distinct. These have well-developed crystal shapes, large sizes, yellow body colorations, and brown irradiation spots. The brown irradiation spots and abrasion textures provide evidence that these diamonds are much older than the other diamonds in the Springfield Basin, and that they are derived from distal kimberlitic sources. The diamonds are most likely derived from Permian glacigene sediments and may ultimately be sourced from kimberlites on the East Antarctic craton. Abrasion textures and brown irradiation spots are also present on diamonds from Echunga. This provides a link to the three "old" Springfield Basin diamonds and other alluvial diamonds in Eastern Australia, and suggests that Permian glaciations caused a widespread distribution of diamonds over large parts of southern Australia, which at that time was part of the supercontinent Gondwana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-821
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ferropericlase
  • Kimberlites
  • Permian glaciation
  • Placer diamonds
  • South Australia
  • Sublithospheric diamonds


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