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Moore A.E.,African Queen Mines Ltd. | Moore A.E.,Rhodes University | Blenkinsop F.P.D.,James Cook University | Blenkinsop F.P.D.,The Network Hub
South African Journal of Geology

Prospecting carried out to the south of the Zambezi-Limpopo drainage divide in the vicinity of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, led to the recovery of a suite of ilmenites with a chemical "fingerprint" that can be closely matched with the population found in the early Palaeozoic Colossus kimberlite, which is located to the north of the modern watershed. The ilmenite geochemistry eliminates other Zimbabwe Kimberlites as potential sources of these pathfinder minerals. Geophysical modelling has been used to ascribe the elevation of southern Africa to dynamic topography sustained by a mantle plume; however, the evolution of the modern divide between the Zambezi and Limpopo drainage basins is not readily explained in terms of this model. Rather, it can be interpreted to represent a late Palaeogene continental flexure, which formed in response to crustal shortening, linked to intra-plate transmission of stresses associated with an episode of spreading reorganization at the ocean ridges surrounding southern Africa. It is proposed that the formation of the flexure was a dynamic process, with the initial locus of flexure located to the north of the Colossus, resulting in the dispersal of ilmenites to the south of this kimberlite. Subsequently, the axis of flexure migrated to its present position, to the south of Colossus. © 2012 December Geological Society of South Africa. Source

Moore A.E.,African Queen Mines Ltd. | Moore A.E.,Rhodes University

Kimberlitic olivines typically show a continuous range in size and texture rather than two discrete populations. The cores of small euhedral olivines commonly provide the template for the final crystal shape, which in turn closely matches morphologies produced by crystallization from a moderately under-cooled magma. Cores and edges of the majority of all olivines define a continuous compositional field, which can be interpreted in terms of Raleigh crystallization. Marked chemical gradients at the olivine margins are linked to rapid physico-chemical changes to the magma associated with loss of volatiles during the late stages of emplacement. Thus, rapid crystallization of groundmass olivines would deplete the magma in Ni, but increase Ca activity. The latter would be enhanced by decreasing pressure coupled with loss of CO 2 from the carbonate-bearing kimberlite magma.For mantle olivines and the most refractory olivines in kimberlites (~Fo 94) to be in equilibrium with bulk rock compositions matching those of Mg-rich macrocrystic and aphanitic kimberlites (Mg# ~88) requires a mineral-melt Mg-Fe distribution coefficient of 0.47. This is well within the experimentally determined range for this distribution coefficient in carbonate-bearing systems. In southern African post-Gondwana alkaline pipe clusters, the average bulk rock Mg# and composition of the associated most Mg-rich olivine both decrease sympathetically from the interior to the continental margin, which is also consistent with a cognate origin for the olivines.A kimberlite magma following a plausible P-T trajectory relative to the CO 2/H 2O peridotite solidus would initially experience superheating, resulting in partial resorption of early-formed olivines that crystallized on the cool conduit walls. It would become supersaturated as it crossed the carbonated peridotite "ledge", resulting in tabular and hopper growth forms typical of euhedral olivine cores. With further ascent, the magma would once again become superheated, resulting in partial resorption of these cores. Thus, apparently complex textures and internal zonation patterns of kimberlitic olivines are predicted by a plausible magma P-T trajectory. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.. Source

Moore A.E.,James Cook University | Moore A.E.,Rhodes University | Moore A.E.,African Queen Mines Ltd.
South African Journal of Geology

Type II (N-poor) diamonds do not constitute a single genetic population with a common pangenesis. Rather, several distinct populations (P-, E-, W- And sub-lithospheric) can be recognized, which formed in contrasting geological environments, with very different factors controlling the N-deficient character of these stones. Mantle-derived silicate and oxide inclusions are absent or extremely rare in large, Irregular Type II stones, which are often of exceptional gem quality. Such characteristics set these diamonds apart from N-poor (Type II) stones with "superdeep" inclusions, as well as the peridotitic and eclogitic suites, both of which include stones with non-detectable N. This in turn points to crystallization of the Irregular Type II stones in an environment markedly different from those in which the other three associations formed. Carbon isotopic signatures and syngeneic inclusions link both framesite and Irregular Type II diamonds to the websterite paragenesis.The latter in turn shows strong chemical affinities to the megacryst suite. From a purely petrographic perspective, the large Irregular Type II stones would be classified as megacrysts on the basis of their size (often >10 mm). The megacryst suite formed as pegmatitic veins from small volumes of kimberlitic liquids, injected into fractures within the thermal aureole surrounding the pooled kimberlite magma in the mantle prior to eruption. Crystallization of Irregular Type II diamonds was initiated when small volumes of evolved, residual megacryst magmas became buffered by highly reduced mantle wall rocks. Visually identified graphite inclusions, often rounded and thus inferred to be proto-genetic, are relatively common in these diamonds. This observation is consistent with the inferred P-T conditions of crystallization of megacrysts across the graphite-diamond inversion curve, and thus within the lithosphere. Rapid crystallization of framesites from reduced megacryst magmas was probably triggered by stresses in the mantle immediately prior to kimberlite eruption. The websterite diamond suite is thus directly linked to megacryst crystallization, broadly coeval with the kimberlite magmatic event in the mantle. Experimental studies on the crystallization of granite pegmatites, complemented by processes specific to formation of the megacryst suite, provide a framework to account for the absence or extreme rarity of inclusions of other megacryst phases in the Irregular Type II stones. The elevated boron contents of blue Type lib diamonds are consistent with the model for crystallization from highly fractionated pegmatitic megacryst magmas. Reduction of boron to the metallic state is ascribed to buffering of the megacryst magma by extremely refractory and highly reduced wallrock harzburgites, such as those found at Premier, which is one of the world's major kimberlite sources of blue diamonds. Formation of fibrous cubic diamonds and the Premier eclogitic diamonds, which are both broadly coeval with eruption of the host kimberlite, can also be linked to the kimberlite magmatic event in the mantle. © 2014 December Geological Society of South Africa. Source

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