The uniquely high-temperature character of Cullinan diamonds: A signature of the Bushveld mantle plume? Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5167-7563-2228-4340-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2018


  • The mantle beneath the Cullinan kimberlite (formerly known as “Premier”) is a unique occurrence of diamondiferous cratonic mantle where diamonds were generated contemporaneously and shortly following a mantle upwelling that led to the formation of a Large Igneous Province that produced the world's largest igneous intrusion – the 2056 Ma Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC). We studied 332 diamond inclusions from 202 Cullinan diamonds to investigate mantle thermal effects imposed by the formation of the BIC. The overwhelming majority of diamonds come from three parageneses: (1) lithospheric eclogitic (69%), (2) lithospheric peridotitic (21%), and (3) sublithospheric mafic (9%). The lithospheric eclogitic paragenesis is represented by clinopyroxene, garnet, coesite and kyanite. Main minerals of the lithospheric peridotitic paragenesis are forsterite, enstatite, Cr-pyrope, Cr-augite and spinel; the sublithospheric mafic association includes majorite, CaSiO3 phases and omphacite. Diamond formation conditions were calculated using an Al-in-olivine thermometer, a garnet-clinopyroxene thermometer, as well as majorite and Raman barometers. The Cullinan diamonds may be unique on the global stage in recording a cold geotherm of 40 mW/m2 in cratonic lithosphere that was in contact with underlying convecting mantle at temperatures of 1450–1550 °C. The studied Cullinan diamonds contain a high proportion of inclusions equilibrated at temperatures exceeding the ambient 1327 °C adiabat, i.e. 54% of eclogitic diamonds and 41% of peridotitic diamonds. By contrast, ≤ 1% of peridotitic diamond inclusions globally yield equally high temperatures. We propose that the Cullinan diamond inclusions recorded transient, slow-dissipating thermal perturbations associated with the plume-related formation of the ~2 Ga Bushveld igneous province. The presence of inclusions in diamond from the mantle transition zone at 300–650 km supports this view. Cullinan xenoliths indicative of the thermal state of the cratonic lithosphere at ~1.2 Ga are equilibrated at the relatively low temperatures, not exceeding adiabatic. The ability of diamonds to record super-adiabatic temperatures may relate to their entrainment from the deeper, hotter parts of the upper mantle un-sampled by the kimberlite in the form of xenoliths or their equilibration in a younger lithosphere after a decay of the thermal disturbance.


  • 304-307