Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 112, Supplement 1, pp 197–207 | Cite as

Diamonds from Orapa Mine show a clear subduction signature in SIMS stable isotope data

  • Ingrid L. ChinnEmail author
  • Samantha H. Perritt
  • Johann Stiefenhofer
  • Richard A. Stern
Original Paper


Spatially resolved analyses reveal considerable isotopic heterogeneity within and among diamonds ranging in size from 0.15 to 4.75 mm from the Orapa Mine, Botswana. The isotopic data are interpreted in conjunction with nitrogen aggregation state data and growth zone relationships from cathodoluminescence images. The integrated information confirms that a distinct diamond growth event (with low IaAB nitrogen aggregation states, moderately high nitrogen contents and δ13C and δ15N values compatible with average mantle values) is younger than the dominant population(s) of Type IaAB diamonds and cores of composite diamonds with more negative and positive δ13C and δ15N values, respectively. A significant proportion of the older diamond generation has high nitrogen contents, well outside the limit sector relationship, and these diamonds are likely to reflect derivation from subducted organic matter. Diamonds with low δ13C values combined with high nitrogen contents and positive δ15N values have not been previously widely recognised, even in studies of diamonds from Orapa. This may have been caused by prior analytical bias towards inclusion-bearing diamonds that are not necessarily representative of the entire range of diamond populations, and because of average measurements from heterogeneous diamonds measured by bulk combustion methods. Two distinct low nitrogen/Type II microdiamond populations were recognised that do not appear to continue into the macrodiamond sizes in the samples studied. Other populations, e.g. those containing residual singly-substituted nitrogen defects, range in size from small microdiamonds to large macrodiamonds. The total diamond content of the Orapa kimberlite thus reflects a complex assortment of multiple diamond populations.


Cathodoluminescence Nitrogen Carbon FTIR 



The authors would like to thank the De Beers Group of Companies, Debswana Diamond Company and Anglo American Corporation for permission to publish this work. De Beers Technologies SA is thanked for use of the Bruker FTIR spectrometer. The authors are grateful to reviewers Sami Mikhail and Duane Petts and guest editor Thomas Stachel for their constructive comments that helped to improve the quality of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

710_2018_570_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (220 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 219 kb)
710_2018_570_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (124 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 123 kb)
710_2018_570_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (63 kb)
ESM 3 (XLSX 63 kb)


  1. Boyd SR, Pillinger CT (1994) A preliminary study of 15N/14N in octahedral growth form diamonds. Chem Geol 116:43–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boyd SR, Mattey DP, Pillinger CT, Milledge HJ, Mendelssohn MJ, Seal M (1987) Multiple growth events during diamond genesis: an integrated study of carbon and nitrogen isotopes and nitrogen aggregation state in coated stones. Earth Planet Sc Lett 86:341–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd SR, Pillinger CT, Milledge HJ, Mendelssohn MJ, Seal M (1992) C and N isotopic composition and the infrared absorption spectra of coated diamonds: evidence for the regional uniformity of CO2-H2O rich fluids in lithospheric mantle. Earth Planet Sc Lett 108:139–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cartigny P (2005) Stable isotopes and the origin of diamond. Elements 1:79–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cartigny P, Boyd SR, Harris JW, Javoy M (1997) Nitrogen isotopes in peridotitic diamonds from Fuxian, China: the mantle signature. Terra Nova 9:175–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cartigny P, Harris JW, Javoy M (1998) Eclogitic diamond formation at Jwaneng: no room for a recycled component. Science 280:1421–1424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cartigny P, Harris JW, Javoy M (1999) Eclogitic, peridotitic, metamorphic diamonds and the problems of carbon recycling: the case of Orapa (Botswana), In: Gurney JJ, Gurney LG, Pascoe MD, Richardson S (eds), Proc. 7th Int Kimberlite Conf, vol 1, Red Roof Design, Goodwood, pp 117–124Google Scholar
  8. Cartigny P, Harris JW, Javoy M (2001) Diamond genesis, mantle fractionations and mantle nitrogen content: a study of δ13C-N concentrations in diamonds. Earth Planet Sc Lett 185:85–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cartigny P, Stachel T, Harris JW, Javoy M (2004) Constraining diamond metasomatic growth using C- and N-stable isotopes: examples from Namibia. Lithos 77:359–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cartigny P, Palot M, Thomassot E, Harris JW (2014) Diamond formation: a stable isotope perspective. Annu Rev Earth Pl Sc 42:699–732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cartingy P, Farquhar J, Thomassot E, Harris JW, Wing B, Masterson A, McKeegan K, Stachel T (2009) A mantle origin for Paleoarchean peridotitic diamonds from the panda kimberlite, slave craton: evidence from 13C-, 15N- and 33,34S-stable isotope systematics. Lithos 112:852–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chrenko RM, Tuft RE, Strong HM (1977) Transformation of the state of nitrogen in diamond. Nature 270:141–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis GL (1977) The ages and uranium contents of zircons from kimberlites and associated rocks. Carnegie I Wash 76:631–635Google Scholar
  14. Deines P, Harris JW, Gurney JJ (1993) Depth-related carbon isotope and nitrogen concentration variability in the mantle below the Orapa kimberlite, Botswana, Africa. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 57:2781–2796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eggler DH, Baker DR (1982) Reduced volatiles in the system C-O-H: Implications to mantle melting, fluid formation, and diamond genesis. In: Akimoto S, Manghnani MH (eds) High Pressure Research in Geophysics, pp 237–250Google Scholar
  16. Fitzsimons ICW, Harte B, Chinn IL, Gurney JJ, Taylor WR (1999) Extreme chemical variation in complex diamonds from George Creek, Colorado: a SIMS study of carbon isotope composition and nitrogen abundance. Mineral Mag 63:857–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gurney JJ, Harris JW, Rickard RS (1984) Silicate and oxide inclusions in diamonds from the Orapa Mine, Botswana. In: Kornprobst J (ed) Kimberlites II: The Mantle and Mantle-Crust Relationships. Developments in Petrology 11B, pp 3–9Google Scholar
  18. Hogberg K, Stachel T, Stern RA (2016) Carbon and nitrogen isotope systematics in diamond: different sensitivities to isotopic fractionation or a decoupled origin? Lithos 265:16–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huang W-L, Wyllie PJ (1984) Carbonation reactions for mantle lherzolite and harzburgite. Proceedings of the 27th international geological congress, Moscow, 9, VNU Science Press, Utrecht, pp 455–473Google Scholar
  20. Javoy M, Pineau F, Demaiffe D (1984) Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition in the diamonds of Mbuji Mayi (Zaire). Earth Planet Sc Lett 68:399–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johnson CN, Stachel T, Muehlenbachs K, Stern RA, Armstrong JP, EIMF (2012) The micro−/macro-diamond relationship: a case study from the Artemisia kimberlite (northern slave craton, Canada). Lithos 148:86–97Google Scholar
  22. Kirkley MB, Gurney JJ, Otter ML, Hill SJ, Daniels LR (1991) The application of C isotope measurements to the identification of the sources of C in diamonds. Appl Geochem 6:477–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klein-BenDavid O, Pearson DG, Nowell GM, Ottley C, McNeill JCR, Cartigny P (2010) Mixed fluid sources involved in diamond growth constrained by Sr-Nd-Pb-C-N isotopes and trace elements. Earth Planet Sc Lett 289:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leahy K, Taylor WR (1997) The influence of the Glennie domain deep structure on the diamonds in Saskatchewan kimberlites. Russ Geol Geophys 38:481–491Google Scholar
  25. Luth RW (1993) Diamonds, eclogites, and the oxidation state of the Earth’s mantle. Science 26:66–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mikhail S, Kurat G, Dubosi G, Verchovsky AB, Jones AP (2013) Peridotitic and websteritic diamondites provide new information regarding mantle melting and metasomatism induced through the subduction of crustal volatiles. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 107:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mikhail S, Verchovsky AB, Howell D, Hutchinson MT, Southworth R, Thomson AR, Warburton P, Jones AP, Milledge HJ (2014) Constraining the internal variability of the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen within mantle diamonds. Chem Geol 366:14–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Milledge HJ, Mendelssohn MJ, Seal M, Rouse JE, Swart PK, Pillinger CT (1983) Carbon isotopic variation in spectral Type II diamonds. Nature 303:791–792Google Scholar
  29. Palot M, Cartigny P, Viljoen F (2009) Diamond origin and genesis: a C and N stable isotope study on diamonds from a single eclogitic xenolith (Kaalvallei, South Africa). Lithos 112:758–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Palot M, Cartigny P, Harris JW, Kaminsky FV, Stachel T (2012) Evidence for deep mantle convection and primordial heterogeneity from nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes in diamond. Earth Planet Sc Lett 357–358:179–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Palot M, Pearson DG, Stachel T, Stern RA, Le Pioufle A, Gurney JJ, Harris JW (2017) The transition zone as a host for recycled volatiles: evidence from nitrogen and carbon isotopes in ultra-deep diamonds from monastery and Jagersfontein (South Africa). Chem Geol 466:733–749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Peats J, Stachel T, Stern RA, Muehlenbachs K (2012) Aviat diamonds: a window into the deep lithospheric mantle beneath the northern Churchill Province, Melville peninsula, Canada. Can Mineral 50:611–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Petts DC, Chacko T, Stachel T, Stern RA, Heaman LM (2015) A nitrogen isotope fractionation factor between diamond and its parental fluid derived from detailed SIMS analysis of a gem diamond and theoretical calculations. Chem Geol 410:188–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Smith CB, Walter MJ, Bulanova GP, Mikhail S, Burnham AD, Gobbo L, Kohn SC (2016) Diamonds from Dachine, French Guiana: a unique record of early Proterozoic subduction. Lithos 265:82–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sobolev VS, Sobolev NV (1980) New proof of submersion to great depths of eclogitized rocks of the earth's crust. Translated from Dokl Akad Nauk SSSR 250(3):683–685Google Scholar
  36. Sobolev NV, Logvinova AM, Zedgenizov DA, Seryotkin YV, Yefimova ES, Floss C, Taylor LA (2004) Mineral inclusions in microdiamonds and macrodiamonds from kimberlites of Yakutia: a comparative study. Lithos 77:225–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stern RA, Palot M, Howell D, Stachel T, Pearson DG, Cartigny P, Oh A. (2014) Methods and reference materials for SIMS diamond C- and N-isotope analysis. Canadian Centre for Isotopic Microanalysis, Research Report 14–01. University of Alberta, Education and Research Archive.
  38. Taylor WR, Jaques AL, Ridd M (1990) Nitrogen-defect aggregation characteristics of some Australasian diamonds: time-temperature constraints on the source regions of pipe and alluvial diamonds. Am Mineral 75:1290–1310Google Scholar
  39. Thomassot E, Cartigny P, Harris JW, Lorand JP, Rollion-Bard C, Chaussidon M (2009) Metasomatic diamond growth: a multi-isotope study (13C, 15N, 33S, 34S) of sulphide inclusions and their host diamonds from Jwaneng (Botswana). Earth Planet Sc Lett 282:79–90Google Scholar
  40. Thomazo C, Pinti DI, Busigny V, Ader M, Hashizume K, Philippot P (2009) Biological activity and the Earth’s surface evolution: insights from carbon, sulfur, nitrogen and iron stable isotopes in the rock record. C R Palevol 8:665–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Timmerman S, Koornneef JM, Chinn IL, Davies GR (2017) Dated eclogitic diamond growth zones reveal variable recycling of crustal carbon through time. Earth Planet Sc Lett 463:178–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Timmerman S, Chinn IL, Fisher D, Davies GR (this volume) Formation of unusual yellow Orapa diamonds. Miner PetrolGoogle Scholar
  43. Tolanksy S, Komatsu H (1967) Abundance of type II diamonds. Science 157:1173–1175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Trautman RL, Griffin BJ, Taylor WR, Spetsius ZV, Smith CB, Lee DC (1997) A comparison of the microdiamonds from kimberlite and lamproite of Yakutia and Australia. Russ Geol Geophys 38(2):341–355Google Scholar
  45. Wiggers de Vries DF, Pearson DG, Bulanova GP, Smelov AP, Pavlushin AD, Davies GR (2013) Re–Os dating of sulphide inclusions zonally distributed in single Yakutian diamonds: evidence for multiple episodes of Proterozoic formation and protracted timescales of diamond growth. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 120:363–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid L. Chinn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samantha H. Perritt
    • 1
  • Johann Stiefenhofer
    • 2
  • Richard A. Stern
    • 3
  1. 1.De Beers Group Services (Pty) LtdSouthdaleSouth Africa
  2. 2.MinRes, Anglo American Operations LtdJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Canadian Centre for Isotopic MicroanalysisUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations