Mixed fluid sources involved in diamond growth constrained by Sr-Nd-Pb-C-N isotopes and trace elements

Ofra Klein-BenDavid, D. Graham Pearson, Geoff M. Nowell, Chris Ottley, John C.R. McNeill, Pierre Cartigny

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67 Scopus citations


Sub-micrometer inclusions in diamonds carry high-density fluids (HDF) from which the host diamonds have precipitated. The chemistry of these fluids is our best opportunity of characterizing the diamond-forming environment. The trace element patterns of diamond fluids vary within a limited range and are similar to those of carbonatitic/kimberlitic melts that originate from beneath the lithospheric mantle. A convecting mantle origin for the fluid is also implied by C isotopic compositions and by a preliminary Sr isotopic study (Akagi, T., Masuda, A., 1988. Isotopic and elemental evidence for a relationship between kimberlite and Zaire cubic diamonds. Nature 336, 665-667.). Nevertheless, the major element chemistry of HDFs is very different from that of kimberlites and carbonatites, varying widely and being characterized by extreme K enrichment (up to ∼ 39 wt.% on a water and carbonate free basis) and high volatile contents. The broad spectrum of major element compositions in diamond-forming fluids has been related to fluid-rock interaction and to immiscibility processes. Elemental signatures can be easily modified by a variety of mantle processes whereas radiogenic isotopes give a clear fingerprint of the time-integrated evolution of the fluid source region. Here we present the results of the first multi radiogenic-isotope (Sr, Nd, Pb) and trace element study on fluid-rich diamonds, implemented using a newly developed off-line laser sampling technique. The data are combined with N and C isotope analysis of the diamond matrix to better understand the possible sources of fluid involved in the formation of these diamonds. Sr isotope ratios vary significantly within single diamonds. The highly varied but unsupported Sr isotope ratios cannot be explained by immiscibility processes or fluid-mineral elemental fractionations occurring at the time of diamond growth. Our results demonstrate the clear involvement of a mixed fluid, with one component originating from ancient incompatible element-enriched parts of the lithospheric mantle while the trigger for releasing this fluid source was probably carbonatitic/kimberlitic melts derived from greater depths. We suggest that phlogopite mica was an integral part of the enriched lithospheric fluid source and that breakdown of this mica releases K and radiogenic Sr into a fluid phase. The resulting fluids operate as a major metasomatic agent in the sub-continental lithospheric mantle as reflected by the isotopic composition and trace element patterns of G10 garnets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes
  • fibrous diamonds
  • fluid mixing
  • mantle metasomatism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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