Origins of subcalcic garnets and their relation to diamond forming fluids-Case studies from Ekati (NWT-Canada) and Murowa (Zimbabwe)

Ofra Klein-BenDavid, D. Graham Pearson

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Subcalcic, high-Cr (G10) garnets are found as inclusions within diamonds and in peridotitic xenoliths. The strong spatial associations between G10 garnets and diamond make them an important tool in the investigation of diamond genesis. We present an integrated study of the major and trace element composition and oxygen-Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic ratios of eight G10 garnets from the Ekati mine (NWT-Canada) and four from the Murowa mine (Zimbabwe) in an attempt to determine their petrogenetic evolution and to further examine a possible relationship between the metasomatic agents responsible for G10 garnet signatures and diamond forming fluids. All garnets display sinusoidal to mildly sinusoidal REE patterns and have negative Ti, Sr and positive U anomalies. They have variably radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (0.703261-0.731191) and non-radiogenic εNd values (-8.1 to -27.1), except for one sample from Murowa that has a positive εNd of 2.5. One Ekati sample has an extremely low εHf value of -61.6. The Ekati garnets we have studied all appear to come from a single depth in the Slave lithospheric mantle. On the base of Cr-Ca relations they have crystallized at 4.9 GPa and display dunitic Ca intercept values. Their δ18O values range between +5.23‰ and +5.42‰. The Ekati G10 garnets record a complex, multi-stage metasomatic history involving the interaction of several components during their genesis. One metasomatic agent was enriched in HFSE, LREE, Sr, and depleted in Nb. This agent had the least radiogenic Sr. Another metasomatic agent had highly radiogenic Sr, and was enriched in LREE, Sr, Nb, Th and U. The G10 garnets have very low εNd and εHf values combined with radiogenic Sr, thus, they require an early lithospheric mantle enrichment event at some stage during their genesis or during the evolution of any precursor material that they formed from. The only Hf isotope composition measurable from the Ekati suite is so unradiogenic (εHf = -61) that it yields a Lu/Hf model age of 3521 Ma. This indicates that the lithospheric enrichment event seen by the Ekati garnets or their precursors may have occurred in the early stages of the craton stabilization, during the diamond forming event [Westerlund K., Shirey S., Richardson S., Carlson R., Gurney J. and Harris J. (2006) A subduction wedge origin for Paleoarchean peridotitic diamonds and harzburgites from the Panda kimberlite, Slave craton: evidence from Re-Os isotope systematics. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 152(3), 275-294]. Although our data cannot unequivocally discriminate between a variety of models for the genesis of subcalcic garnets it is clear that the host peridotite originated via melting at shallow depths followed by subduction and that the observed geochemical fingerprint of the garnets is strongly influenced by diamond forming fluids. Diamond forming fluids sampled from fibrous diamonds, have steep REE patterns, negative Ti and Sr anomalies and very low Sm/Nd ratios that are very similar to G10 garnet characteristics. These diamond forming fluids have been recently shown to have extreme Sr and Nd isotopic compositions [Klein-BenDavid O., Pearson D. G., Nowell G. M. and Cantigny P. (2008) Origins of diamond forming fluids-constraints from a coupled Sr-Nd isotope and trace element approach. Extended abstracts to the 9th International Kimberlite Conference, Frankfurt, Germany, 9IKC-A-00118.] that are closely concordant with G10 garnets. The fluids are also rich in LREE, P, K and water, sharing these features with mica-rich metasomes. These similarities suggest that ancient lithospheric metasomes could either provide a source region for, or be a product of diamond forming fluids. Diamond forming fluids appear to be intimately involved in the evolution of G10 garnets in the lithospheric mantle, either acting as a metasomatic agent, or being integral to triggering or enhancing garnet growth in a Cr-rich protolith. Such a link explains the strong association between G10 garnets and diamonds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-855
Number of pages19
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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