The diamondiferous Ellendale 9 (E9) pipe is a funnel-shaped maar-diatreme volcano consisting of inward-dipping tuff sequences intruded by lamproite plugs and dykes. The host rocks for the E9 pipe are Permian sandstones. The multiple lithological contacts exposed within the mined maar volcano provide a natural laboratory in which to study the effect of volcanic processes on U–Th–Pb–He systematics. Zircon from the regional sandstone and E9 lamproite display a bimodal distribution of ages on (U–Th)/He–U/Pb plots. The zircon U/Pb ages for the E9 pipe (n = 52) range from 440 to 2,725 Ma, while the cluster of (U–Th)/He ages for the lamproite dyke zircon indicate that dyke emplacement occurred at 20.6 ± 2.8 Ma, concordant with a maximum emplacement age of about ≤22 Ma from phlogopite 40Ar/39Ar. These ages indicate a xenocrystic origin for the zircon entrained in the E9 dyke. The U/Pb ages of detrital zircon from the regional sandstone host (373–3,248 Ma; n = 41) are indistinguishable from those of the lamproite zircon xenocrysts, whereas the detrital zircon in the host sandstone yield (U–Th)/He ages from 260 to 1,500 Ma. A thermochronology traverse across the E9 lamproite dyke reveals that the zircon (U–Th)/He ages in the host sandstone have not been significantly thermally reset during dyke emplacement, even at the contact. The capability of the zircon (U–Th)/He method to distinguish deep, mantle source lithologies from upper crustal source lithologies could be used in geochemical exploration for diamonds. Pre-screening of detrital samples using etching and helium assay methods will improve the efficiency and decrease the cost of greenfields exploration.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Baxter EF (2003) Quantification of the factors controlling the presence of excess 40Ar or 4He. Earth Planet Sci Lett 216:619–634
Bernet M, Brandon MT, Garver JI, Molitor BR (2004) Fundamentals of detrital zircon fission-track analysis for provenance and exhumationstudies with examples from the European Alps. In: Detrital thermochronology—provenance analysis, exhumation, and landscape evolution of mountain belts. In: Bernet M, Spiegel C (eds) GSA Spec Pub 378, pp 25–36
Cherniak DJ, Watson EB (2000) Pb diffusion in zircon. Chem Geol 172:5–24
Ellsworth S, Navrotsky A, Ewing RC (1994) Energetics of radiation damage in natural zircon (ZrSiO4). Phys Chem Miner 21:140–149
Ewing RC (1994) The Metamict state: 1993—the centennial. Nucl Instrum Meth Phys Res Sect B 91:22–29
Farley K (2000) Helium diffusion from apatite: general behavior as illustrated by Durango fluorapatite. J Geophys Res 105:2903–2914
Farley KA, Wolf RA, Silver LT (1996) The effects of long alpha-stopping distances on (U–Th)/He ages. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 60:4223–4229
Fielding PE (1970) The distribution of uranium, rare earths, and color centers in a crystal of natural zircon. Am Mineral 55:429–440
Fleischer RL, Price PB, Walker RM (1975) Nuclear tracks in solids. Univ California Press, Berkeley, p 605
Galbraith RF (1988) Graphical display of estimates having differing standard errors. Technometrics 30:271–281
Garver JI, Brandon MT, Bernet M, Brewer I, Soloviev AV, Kamp PJJ, Meyer N (2000) Practical considerations for using detrital zircon fission track thermochronology for provenance, exhumation studies, and dating sediments. In: Noble WP, O'Sullivan PB, Brown RW (eds) The Ninth International Conference of Fission-track Dating and Thermochronology. Geol Soc Australia 58:109–111
Hopp J, Trieloff M, Brey GP, Woodland AB, Simon NSC, Wijbrans JR, Siebel W, Reitter E (2008) Lithos 106:351–364
Hourigan JK, Reiners PW, Brandon MT (2005) U–Th zonation-dependent alpha-ejection in (U–Th)/He chronometry. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 69:3349–3365
Hughes FE, Smith CB (1990) Ellendale diamond deposits. In: Hughes FE (ed) Geology of the mineral deposits of Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Monograph 14, pp 1115–1122
Jaques AL (1996) Kimberlite and lamproite diamond pipes. AGSO J Aust Geol Geophys 17(4):153–162
Jaques AL, Webb AW, Fanning CM, Black LP, Pigeon RT, Ferguson J, Smith CB, Gregory GP (1984) The age of the diamond bearing pipes and associated leucite lamproites of the West Kimberley region, Western Australia. BMR J Aust Geol Geophys 9:1–7
Jaques AL, Lewis JD, Smith CB (1986) The kimberlites and lamproites of Western Australia. Geological Survey of Western Australia Bulletin 132
Kelley S (2002) Excess argon in K–Ar and Ar–Ar geochronology. Chem Geol 188:1–22
Kelley SP, Wartho J-A (2000) Rapid kimberlite ascent and the significance of Ar–Ar ages in xenolith phlogopites. Science 289:609–611
Kohn BP, Gleadow AJW, Brown RW, Gallagher K, O'Sullivan PB, Foster DA (2002) Shaping the Australian crust over the last 300 million years: insights from fission track thermotectonic imaging and denudation studies of key Terranes. Aus J Earth Sci 49(4):697–717
Lee JKW, Williams IS, Ellis DJ (1997) Pb, U and Th diffusion in natural zircon. Nature 390:159–162
McInnes BIA, Evans NJ, Fu FQ, Garwin S (2005) Application of thermochronometry to hydrothermal ore deposits. In: Reiners P, Ehlers T (eds), Thermochronology. Rev Miner Geochem 58:467–498
McInnes BIA, Evans NJ, McDonald BJ, Kinny P, Jakimowicz J (2009) Application of zircon double-dating techniques in diamond exploration, Merlin kimberlite field, Northern Territory, Australia. Lithos 112S:592–599
Mitchell RH, Platt RG, Downey M (1987) Petrology of lamproites from Smoky Butte, Montana. J Petrology 28:645–677
Muggeridge M (1995) Pathfinder sampling techniques for locating primary sources of diamond: recovery of indicator minerals, diamonds and geochemical signatures. J Geochem Explor 53:183–204
Naeser ND, Zeitler PK, Naeser CW, Cerveny PF (1987) Provenance studies by fission-track dating—etching and counting procedures. Nucl Tracks Radiat Meas 13:121–126
Phillips D, Onstott TC (1986) Application of 36Ar/40Ar versus 39Ar/40Ar correlation diagrams to the 40Ar/39Ar spectra of phlogopites from Southern African kimberlites. Geophys Res Lett 13:689–692
Reiners PW (2005) Zircon (U/Th)-He thermochronometry. Rev Mineral Geochem 58:151–179
Reiners PW, Farley KA, Hickes HJ (2002) He diffusion and (U–Th)/He thermochronometry of zircon: initial results from Fish Canyon Tuff and Gold Butte, Nevada. Tectonophysics 349:297–308
Reiners PW, Spell TL, Nicolescu S, Znetti KA (2004) Zircon (U–Th)/He thermochronometry: He diffusion and comparisons with 40Ar/39Ar dating. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 68(8):1857–1887
Salvioli-Mariani E, Venturelli G (1996) Temperature of crystallization and evolution of the Jumilla and Cancarix lamproites (SE Spain) as suggested by melt and solid inclusions in minerals. Eur J Mineral 8:1027–1039
Smith CB, Lorenz V (1989) Volcanology of the Ellendale lamproite pipes, Western Australia. In: Ross J et al. (eds) Kimberlites and related rocks. Volume I: their composition occurrence and emplacement. Geological Society of Australia, Special Publication 14:505–519
Speer JA (1980) Zircon. In: Ribbe PH (ed) Orthosilicates. Mineralogical Society of America, Reviews in Mineralogy 5:67–112
Tagami T, Farley KA, Stockli DF (2003) (U–Th)/He geochronology of single zircon grains of known Tertiary eruption age: Earth Planet. Sci Lett 207:57–67
Vanlaningham S, Mark DF (2011) Step heating of 40Ar/39Ar standard mineral mixtures: investigation of a fine-grained bulk sediment provenance tool. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75:2324–2335
Vermeesch P (2009) RadialPlotter: a Java application for fission track, luminescence and other radial plots. Radiat Meas 44(4):409–410
Vermeesch P (2010) HelioPlot, and the treatment of overdispersed (U–Th–Sm)/He data. Chem Geol 271:108–111. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2010.01.002
Wellman P (1972) Early Miocene potassium–argon age for the Fitzroy lamporites of Western Australia. Geol Soc Aust J 19:471–474
Zaun PE, Wagner GA (1985) Fission-track stability in zircons under geological conditions. Nucl Tracks 10:303–307
The authors would like to thank the Minerals and Energy Research Institute of Western Australia and M405 project sponsors (North Australian Diamonds Ltd. Venus Resources, Gem Minerals, Flinders Mines) for their support of this research. Angelo Vartesi and Travis Naughton are thanked for drafting the figures. Special thanks to Cameron Scadding and Allen Thomas (TSW Analytical, Perth) for assistance with ICP MS analysis and to Adam Frew for assistance with SHRIMP and 40Ar/39Ar analysis. The constructive comments of Patrick Williams, Rolf L. Romer and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.
Editorial handling: R. Romer
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
Analytical methods. Detailed description of all analytical methods used, including (U–Th)/He, U/Pb and Ar–Ar and a more detailed discussion of alpha corrections employed. (PDF 138kb)
Full U–Pb data sets. U–Pb SHRIMP data for zircon separated from the Grant Formation sandstone and the E9 Lamproite dyke (PDF 153kb)
Thermochronology and Geochronology results. Table 1. Zircon (U–Th)/He and U/Pb ages for double dated E9 Pipe and regional sandstone; Table 2. Zircon (U–Th)/He ages for traverse from E9 lamproite dyke and into adjacent sandstone (PDF 148kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Evans, N.J., McInnes, B.I.A., McDonald, B. et al. Emplacement age and thermal footprint of the diamondiferous Ellendale E9 lamproite pipe, Western Australia. Miner Deposita 48, 413–421 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-012-0430-7