The olivine macrocryst problem: New insights from minor and trace element compositions of olivine from Lac de Gras kimberlites, Canada

Yannick Bussweiler*, Stephen F. Foley, Dejan Prelević, Dorrit E. Jacob

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents detailed petrographical and geochemical investigations on remarkably fresh olivines in kimberlites from the EKATI Diamond Mine™ located in the Tertiary/Cretaceous Lac de Gras kimberlite field within the Slave craton of Canada.Olivine, constituting about 42. vol.% of the analyzed samples, can be divided into two textural groups: (i) macrocrystic olivines, >. 100. μm sub-rounded crystals and (ii) groundmass olivines, <. 100. μm subhedral crystals. Olivines from both populations define two distinct chemical trends; a "mantle trend" with angular cores, showing low Ca (<. 0.1. wt.% CaO) and high Ni (0.3-0.4. wt.% NiO) at varying Mg# (0.86-0.93), contrasts with a "melt trend" typified by thin (<. 100. μm) rims with increasing Ca (up to 1.0. wt.% CaO) and decreasing Ni (down to 0.1. wt.% NiO) contents at constant Mg# (~. 0.915). These findings are in agreement with recent studies suggesting that virtually all olivine is composed of xenocrystic (i.e. mantle-related) cores with phenocrystic (i.e. melt-related) overgrowths, thereby challenging the traditional view that the origin of kimberlitic olivine can be distinguished based on size and morphology.The two main trends can be further resolved into sub-groups refining the crystallization history of olivine; the mantle trend indicates a multi-source origin that samples the layered lithosphere below the Slave craton, whereas the melt trend represents multi-stage crystallization comprising a differentiation trend starting at mantle conditions and a second trend controlled by the crystallization of additional phases (e.g. chromite) and changing magma conditions (e.g. oxidation). These trends are also seen in the concentrations of trace elements not routinely measured in olivine (e.g. Na, P, Ti, Co, Sc, Zr). Trace element mapping with LA-ICP-MS reveals the distribution of these elements within olivine grains. The trace element distribution between the two trends appears to be consistent with phenocrystic olivine overgrowths mainly originating from dissolved orthopyroxene, showing enrichment in Zr, Ga, Nb, Sc, V, P, Al, Ti, Cr, Ca and Mn in the melt trend.In a sample of magmatic kimberlite from the Leslie pipe, the amount of xenocrystic and phenocrystic olivine is estimated to be around 23vol.% and 19vol.%, respectively. Subtraction of this xenocrystic olivine from the Leslie bulk composition, aimed at estimating the parental kimberlite melt, results in a minor decrease of Mg# (by about 0.01) and SiO2 content (by about 3wt.%), whereas CaO increases (by about 3wt.%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-252
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Kimberlite
  • Olivine
  • Parental magma
  • Trace element mapping
  • Trace elements


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