Noble gas geochemistry of fluid inclusions in South African diamonds: implications for the origin of diamond-forming fluids

Suzette Timmerman*, Masahiko Honda, David Phillips, Alan L. Jaques, Jeffrey W. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Fibrous diamond growth zones often contain abundant high-density fluid (HDF) inclusions and these provide the most direct information on diamond-forming fluids. Noble gases are incompatible elements and particularly useful in evaluating large-scale mantle processes. This study further constrains the evolution and origin of the HDFs by combining noble gas systematics with δ13C, N concentrations, and fluid inclusion compositions for 21 individual growth zones in 13 diamonds from the Finsch (n = 3), DeBeers Pool (n = 7), and Koffiefontein (n = 3) mines on the Kaapvaal Craton. C isotope compositions range from −2.8 to −8.6‰ and N contents vary between 268 and 867 at.ppm, except for one diamond with contents of <30 at.ppm N. Nine of the thirteen studied diamonds contained saline HDF inclusions, but the other four diamonds had carbonatitic or silicic HDF inclusions. Carbonatitic and silicic HDFs yielded low He concentrations, R/Ra (3He/4Hesample/3He/4Heair) values of 3.2–6.7, and low 40Ar/36Ar ratios of 390–1940. Noble gas characteristics of carbonatitic-silicic HDFs appear consistent with a subducted sediment origin and interaction with eclogite. Saline HDFs are characterised by high He concentrations, with R/Ra mostly between 3.9 and 5.7, and a wide range in 40Ar/36Ar ratios (389–30,200). The saline HDFs likely originated from subducted oceanic crust with low He but moderate Ar contents. Subsequent interaction of these saline HDFs with mantle peridotite could explain the increase in He concentrations and mantle-like He isotope composition, with the range in low to high 40Ar/36Ar ratios dependent on the initial 36Ar content and extent of lithosphere interaction. The observed negative correlation between 4He contents and R/Ra values in saline HDFs indicates significant in situ radiogenic 4He production.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)181-195
    Number of pages15
    JournalMineralogy and Petrology
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Noble gas geochemistry of fluid inclusions in South African diamonds: implications for the origin of diamond-forming fluids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this