Using microdiamonds in kimberlite diamond grade prediction

A case study of the variability in diamond population characteristics across the size range 0.2 to 3.4 mm in Misery Kimberlite, Ekati Mine, NWT, Canada

M. Y. Krebs*, D. G. Pearson, T. Stachel, R. A. Stern, T. Nowicki, S. Cairns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

First predictions of the macrodiamond grade of newly discovered kimberlites are commonly obtained using size frequency distributions of microdiamonds. The success of this approach suggests a common origin of microdiamonds and macrodiamonds, an implication not yet conclusively established or disproved. In contrast to previous comparative studies on microdiamonds and macrodiamonds from single deposits, here all diamonds analyzed originate from the same microdiamond samples (558 diamonds, ranging from 0.212 to 3.35 mm). The diamonds were analyzed for their carbon isotope compositions and nitrogen characteristics, and, based on this dataset, statistical comparisons were conducted across the size range to assess cogenesis. As a whole, the Misery diamond suite shows high nitrogen contents (median = 850 at. ppm), a bimodal distribution in time-averaged mantle residence temperatures (two distinct subpopulations in mantle residence temperatures: ≤1,125° and ≤1,175°C), a high degree of platelet degradation, and δ13C compositions that are isotopically slightly heavier (median =.4.4-ñ) than the global median. Statistical comparisons of the various size classes indicate the presence of subtly different subpopulations at Misery; however, the nature and magnitude of these geochemical differences are very small in the context of the global diamond database and are viewed as petrogenetically insignificant. The general geochemical similarity of diamonds from different size fractions at Misery reinforces the use of size-frequency analysis to predict diamond grade in kimberlite diamond deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-525
Number of pages23
JournalEconomic Geology
Volume111
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

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