Genesis of Diamond-bearing and Diamond-free Podiform Chromitites in the Luobusa Ophiolite, Tibet
Abstract:Micro-diamonds, moissanite and many highly reduced minerals, such as native Fe, Cr, Ni, Si, Al, and metallic alloys, have been reported previously from podiform chromitites and peridotites of the Luobusa ophiolite in the eastern segment of the Yarlung-Zangbo suture of southern Tibet.. Similar mineral associations have now been confirmed in mantle peridotites or chromitites of 11 other ophiolites in 5 orogenic belts, in Tibet, Myanmar, North China and the Polar Urals. However, detailed studies of the Luobusa ophiolite show that not all chromitites contain these UHP and highly reduced minerals. Diamond-bearing chromitites are chiefly massive bodies composed of over 95 modal% magnesiochromite with Cr#s [100Cr/(Cr+Al)] of 77-83 and Mg#s [100Mg/(Mg+Fe)] of 71-82. Most of these bodies have sharp contacts with the host harzburgites and are only rarely enclosed in dunite envelopes. Many magnesiochromite grains in the massive chromitites contain inclusions of forsterite and pyroxene. Forsterite inclusions have Fo numbers of 97-99 and NiO contents of 1.11-1.29 wt%. Mg#s of clinopyroxene inclusions are 96-98 and those of orthopyroxene are 96-97. X-ray studies show that the olivine inclusions have very small unit cells and short cation-oxygen bond distances, suggesting crystallization at high pressure. In contrast, diamond-free chromitites typically occur as layers within thick dunite sequences or as irregular patches surrounded by dunite envelopes. They consist of variable proportions of magnesiochromite (Cr# = 76-78; Mg# = 58-61) and olivine, and have banded, nodular and disseminated textures. The dunite envelopes consist chiefly of granular olivine with a few relatively large, amoeboidal grains of magnesiochromite, and typically grade into the host peridotites with increasing pyroxene. Unlike those in the massive ores, magnesiochromite grains in nodular and disseminated chromitites lack pyroxene inclusions, and their olivine inclusions have relatively low Fo (94-96) and NiO (0.35-0.58 wt%).
We propose that the diamond-bearing chromitite ores formed within the deeper parts of the upper mantle and were emplaced at an oceanic spreading ridge, whereas the diamond-free chromitites formed at shallow levels by melt/rock reaction, most likely in a SSZ environment.