Trace element geochemistry of ilmenite megacrysts from the Monastery kimberlite, South Africa

R. O. Moore, W. L. Griffin*, J. J. Gurney, C. G. Ryan, D. R. Cousens, S. H. Sie, G. F. Suter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Ilmenite megacrysts in the Monastery kimberlite occur both as discrete monomineralic crystals and intergrown with all the other phases of the Cr-poor megacryst suite (cpx, opx, garnet, Fe-rich olivine, phlogopite and zircon). The ilmenites show systematic variations in trace element content which are interpreted in terms of a fractional crystallization model. Covariation of major and trace elements in the ilmenites with respect to their Nb content defines smooth curves, with breaks in the trends corresponding to changes in the inferred cumulate assemblage. Nb apparently behaved as an incompatible element in the megacryst magma throughout its crystallization history, and the Nb content of ilmenite serves as a useful fractionation index. After the appearance of ilmenite, the crystallization sequence of the Monastery megacryst suit is ilmenite+cpx+garnet+opx, followed by ilmenite+phlogopite, then ilmenite+zircon±phlogopite and finally by ilmenite+zircon+olivine+phlogopite. The incompatible behaviour of Nb indicates that ilmenite was overall never a predominant phase in the cumulate assemblage. Elevated Cr contents in late-stage ilmenites cannot be explained by the simple fractional crystallization model, and may require another process such as magma mixing or magma reaction with wall rock. The parent megacryst magma must have been highly magnesian and enriched in incompatible trace elements and in this respect may have been similar to meimechite. The late differentiate of this magma cannot be kimberlite, but must be undersaturated and high in iron, potassium, titanium and incompatible elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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