Discovery of carbonatitic microinclusions in diamonds with highly aggregated nitrogen

Monday, 15 December 2014
Brooke Matat Jablon and Oded Navon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
It is accepted that fibrous diamonds grew from the high-density fluids (HDFs) they trapped as microinclusions. Such fluids are not found in monocrystalline (MC) diamonds, leaving their source of carbon a mystery. Fibrous diamonds carry nitrogen in A centers and are young (106 years), while most MC diamonds carry aggregated nitrogen in both A and B centers and are older (109 years). Weiss et al. (2014) found saline HDFs in the core of a coated diamond from Guinea and carbonatitic and saline fluids in a South African diamond, both with low concentrations of B centers (5-27%). Here we report finding microinclusions with high-Mg carbonatitic HDFs in MC diamonds. The infrared spectrum of these diamonds confirms their highly aggregated nature (>60%).

We studied a suite of twinned diamonds, macles, from the Venetia mine in South Africa. The diamonds were polished perpendicular to their twinning plane and cleaned in HF and HNO3. We identified the twinning planes in cathodoluminescence images and methodically searched along and next to these planes, assuming that inclusions were preferentially trapped there. Shallow, sub-surface inclusions were analyzed using a JEOL JXA-8230 EPMA and an EDS detector.

In two out of 11 diamonds we found inclusions with high concentrations of MgO (26-31 wt%), CaO (21-34%), K2O (9-16%), FeO (7-12%) and SiO2 (8-13%). These compositions are similar to those of HDFs in fibrous diamonds from Guinea and Yakutia (Weiss et al., 2009; Klein-BenDavid et al., 2009; Zedgenizov et al., 2009). Eight carbonatitic inclusions were found in diamond ON-VNT-608 and three in ON-VNT-605.

Five microinclusions in 608 and one in 605 carry high concentrations of SiO2, MgO and FeO, with little else. Their compositions fall close to that of orthopyroxene, suggesting that both diamonds belong to the peridotitic paragenesis. Other inclusions, rich in SiO2 and Al2O3 in variable proportions were found in 8 of the 11 diamonds. The nature of these inclusions is not yet clear.

The presence of high-Mg carbonatitic inclusions in clear, gem-quality diamonds indicates that carbonate-bearing HDFs play a role in the formation of most diamonds. The high aggregation state of the nitrogen affirms a long mantle-residence time implying that the major element composition of diamond-forming fluids has not changed over time.