The evolution of calcite-bearing kimberlites by melt-rock reaction

evidence from polymineralic inclusions within clinopyroxene and garnet megacrysts from Lac de Gras kimberlites, Canada

Y. Bussweiler*, R. S. Stone, D. G. Pearson, R. W. Luth, T. Stachel, B. A. Kjarsgaard, A. Menzies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


Megacrystic (>1 cm) clinopyroxene (Cr-diopside) and garnet (Cr-pyrope) xenocrysts within kimberlites from Lac de Gras (Northwest Territories, Canada) contain fully crystallized melt inclusions. These ‘polymineralic inclusions’ have previously been interpreted to form by necking down of melts at mantle depths. We present a detailed petrographical and geochemical investigation of polymineralic inclusions and their host crystals to better understand how they form and what they reveal about the evolution of kimberlite melt. Genetically, the megacrysts are mantle xenocrysts with peridotitic chemical signatures indicating an origin within the lithospheric mantle (for the Cr-diopsides studied here ~4.6 GPa, 1015 °C). Textural evidence for disequilibrium between the host crystals and their polymineralic inclusions (spongy rims in Cr-diopside, kelyphite in Cr-pyrope) is consistent with measured Sr isotopic disequilibrium. The preservation of disequilibrium establishes a temporal link to kimberlite eruption. In Cr-diopsides, polymineralic inclusions contain phlogopite, olivine, chromite, serpentine, and calcite. Abundant fluid inclusion trails surround the inclusions. In Cr-pyropes, the inclusions additionally contain Al-spinel, clinopyroxene, and dolomite. The major and trace element compositions of the inclusion phases are generally consistent with the early stages of kimberlite differentiation trends. Extensive chemical exchange between the host phases and the inclusions is indicated by enrichment of the inclusions in major components of the host crystals, such as Cr2O3 and Al2O3. This chemical evidence, along with phase equilibria constraints, supports the proposal that the inclusions within Cr-diopside record the decarbonation reaction: dolomitic melt + diopside → forsterite + calcite + CO2, yielding the observed inclusion mineralogy and producing associated (CO2-rich) fluid inclusions. Our study of polymineralic inclusions in megacrysts provides clear mineralogical and chemical evidence for an origin of kimberlite that involves the reaction of high-pressure dolomitic melt with diopside-bearing mantle assemblages producing a lower-pressure melt that crystallizes a calcite-dominated assemblage in the crust.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cr-rich megacrysts
  • Decarbonation reaction
  • Kimberlite
  • Kimberlite evolution
  • Melt inclusions
  • Polymineralic inclusions

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