Advertisement

Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 112, Supplement 2, pp 737–753 | Cite as

Diamond exploration and regional prospectivity of Western Australia

  • Mark T. HutchisonEmail author
Original Paper
  • 106 Downloads

Abstract

Pre-1.6 Ga rocks comprise around 45% of the onshore area of Western Australia (WA), constituting the West Australian Craton (WAC) (including the Archean Yilgarn and Pilbara Cratons) and the western part of the North Australian Craton (NAC). These areas provide the conditions suitable for diamond formation at depth, and numerous diamondiferous lamproite and kimberlite fields are known. As emplacement ages span close to 2500 Ma, there are significant opportunities for diamond-affinity rocks being present near-surface in much of the State, including amongst Phanerozoic rocks. WA’s size, terrain, infrastructure and climate, mean that many areas remain underexplored. However, continuous diamond exploration since the 1970s has resulted in abundant data. In order to advance future exploration, a comprehensive database of results of diamond exploration sampling (Geological Survey of Western Australia 2018) has been assessed. The Yilgarn and Pilbara Cratons have spinel indicators almost exclusively dominated by chromite (>90% of grains), whereas (Mg,Fe,Ti)-bearing Al-chromites account for more of the indicator spinels in the NAC, up to 50% of grains at the Northern Territory (NT) border. Increasing dominance of Al in chromites is interpreted as a sign of weathering or a shallower source than Al-depleted Mg-chromites. Garnet compositions across the State also correlate with geological subdivisions, with lherzolitic garnets showing more prospective compositions (Ca-depleted) in WAC samples compared to the NAC. WAC samples also show a much broader scatter into strongly diamond-prospective G10 and G10D compositions. Ilmenites from the NAC show Mg-enriched compositions (consistent with kimberlites), over and above those present in NT data. However, ilmenites from the WAC again show the most diamond-prospective trends. Numerous indicator mineral concentrations throughout the State have unknown sources. Due in part to the presence of diamondiferous lamproites, it is cautioned that some accepted indicator mineral criteria do not apply in parts of WA. For example Ca-depleted garnets, Mg-depleted ilmenites and Cr-depleted and Al-absent clinopyroxenes are all sometimes associated with strongly diamondiferous localities. Quantitative prospectivity analysis has also been carried out based on the extent and results of sampling, age of surface rocks relative to ages of diamond-prospective rocks, and the underlying mantle structure. Results show that locations within the NAC and with proximity to WA’s diamond mines score well. However, results point to parts of the WAC being more prospective, consistent with mineral chemical data. Most notable are the Hamersley Basin, Eastern Goldfields Superterrane and the Goodin Inlier of the Yilgarn Craton. Despite prolific diamond exploration, WA is considerably underexplored and the ageing Argyle mine and recent closure of operations at Ellendale warrant a re-evaluation of diamond potential. Results of mineral chemistry and prospectivity analysis make a compelling case for renewed exploration.

Keywords

Western Australia Diamond exploration Kimberlite Lamproite Indicator minerals 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Wayne Taylor, is gratefully acknowledged for his invaluable insights regarding mineral chemistry in particular regarding spinels. Bram Janse, Grant Boxer, Mark Mitchell, Tom Reddicliffe, Lynton Jaques, Jim Wright and Stephan Myer are warmly thanked for considerable discussion and generous data-sharing from their wealth of knowledge of WA diamond exploration. All participants in the WA diamond explorers’ regular Friday lunches in Subiaco assisted greatly in supporting the progression of this research. Don Flint, Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) instigated the project and provided invaluable support at all stages and is very gratefully acknowledged. The manuscript benefitted from constructive reviews from Andrew Macdonald and Marty Podolsky and editorial handling by Jarek Jakubec and Lutz Nasdala. This work is published with the approval of the Director General of the DMIRS. This work was funded by the West Australian Government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme.

Supplementary material

710_2018_579_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 33.1 KB)

References

  1. Ahmad M, Scrimgeour IR (2013) Chapter 1: Introduction. In: Ahmad M, Munson TJ (comp) Geology and mineral resources of the Northern Territory. Spec Pub, vol 5. Northern Territory Geol Surv, Darwin, pp 1:1–1:17Google Scholar
  2. Allsop HL, Bristow JW, Skinner EMW, Scott Smith BH, Danchin RV (1985) Rb–Sr geochronology of some Miocene West Australian lamproites. Trans Geol Soc S Afr 88:341–345Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson WJ, Smith CB, Danchin RV, Janse AJA (1990) Diamond deposits of Australia. In: Hughes FE (ed) Geology of the mineral deposits of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australian Inst Min Metall Mono, vol 14, pp 69–76Google Scholar
  4. Boxer GL, Jaques AL (1990) Argyle (AK1) diamond deposit. In: Hughes FE (ed) Geology of the mineral deposits of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australian Inst Min Metall, Mono, vol 14, pp 697–706Google Scholar
  5. Deakin AS, Boxer GL, Meakins AE, Haebig AE, Lew JH (1989) Geology of the argyle alluvial diamond deposit. In: Ross J et al (eds) Kimberlites and related rocks vol 2 Geol Soc Australia Spec Pub vol 14. Blackwell, Scientific Publications, Carlton, pp 1108–1116Google Scholar
  6. Downes PJ, Griffin BJ, Griffin WL (2007) Mineral chemistry and zircon geochronology of xenocrysts and altered mantle and crustal xenoliths from the Aries micaceous kimberlite: constraints on the composition and age of the Central Kimberley Craton, Western Australia. Lithos 93:175–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Edwards D, Rock NMS, Taylor WR, Griffin BJ, Ramsay RR (1992) Mineralogy and petrology of the Aries diamondiferous kimberlite pipe, Central Kimberley Block, Western Australia. J Petrol 33:1157–1191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fishwick S, Kennett BLN, Reading AM (2006) Contrasts in lithospheric structure within the Australian craton — insights from surface wave tomography. Earth Planet Sci Lett 231:163–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Geological Survey of Western Australia (2018) Diamond exploration and prospectivity of Western Australia, 2018: Digital data package. Available at http://dmpbookshop.eruditetechnologies.com.au/product/diamond-exploration-and-prospectivity-of-western-australia.do
  10. Graham S, Lambert D, Shee SR, Smith CB, Reeves S (1999a) Re–Os isotopic evidence for Archean lithospheric mantle beneath the Kimberley block, Western Australia. Geology 27:431–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Graham S, Lambert DD, Shee SR, Smith CB, Hamilton R (1999b) Re–Os and Sm–Nd isotopic constraints on the sources of kimberlites and melnoites, Earaheedy Basin, Western Australia. In: Gurney JJ et al (eds) Proceedings of the VIIth International Kimberlite Conference vol 1. Red Roof Design, Cape Town, pp 280–290Google Scholar
  12. Graham S, Lambert D, Shee S (2004) The petrogenesis of carbonatite, melnoite and kimberlite from the Eastern Goldfields Province, Yilgarn Craton. Lithos 76:519–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Griffin WL, Jaques AL, Sie SH, Ryan CG, Cousens DR, Suter GF (1988) Conditions of diamond growth: a proton microprobe study of inclusions in West Australian diamonds. Contrib Mineral Petrol 99:143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Groom FF (1896) Report of a visit to Nullagine, Pilbara District, to examine the country reported to be diamond yielding. Dep Mines Western Australia Annu Rep 1895:27Google Scholar
  15. Grütter HS, Apter DB (1998) Kimberlite- and lamproite-borne chromite phenocrysts with diamond-inclusion-type chemistries. In: Gurney JJ et al. (eds) Extended Abstracts of the VIIth International Kimberlite Conference. VIIth IKC, pp 280–282Google Scholar
  16. Grütter HS, Tuer J (2009) Constraints on deep mantle tenor of Sarfartoq-area kimberlites (Greenland), based on modern thermobarometry of mantle-derived xenocrysts. Lithos 112S:124–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grütter HS, Gurney JJ, Menzies AH, Winter F (2004) An updated classification scheme for mantle-derived garnet, for use by diamond explorers. Lithos 77:841–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haggerty SE (1994) Diamond genesis in a multiply-constrained model. Nature 320:34–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haggerty SE (1999) A diamond trilogy: Superplumes, supercontinents, and supernovae. Science 285:851–860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hamilton R, Rock NMS (1990) Geochemistry, mineralogy and petrology of a new find of ultramafic lamprophyres from Bulljah Pool, Nabberu Basin, Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia. Lithos 24:275–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helmstaedt HH, Gurney JJ (1995) Geotectonic controls of primary diamond deposits: implications for area selection. J Geochem Explor 53:125–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hutchison MT (2011) Northern Territory diamond exploration database. Northern Territory Geol Surv Digital Info Package DIP 011. Available at http://www.geoscience.nt.gov.au/gemis/ntgsjspui/handle/1/81750
  23. Hutchison MT (2013) Diamond exploration and Regional Prospectivity of the Northern Territory of Australia. In: Pearson DG et al. (eds) Proceedings of 10th International Kimberlite Conference, vol 2. Spec Issue J Geol Soc India. Geol Soc India, pp 257–280Google Scholar
  24. Hutchison, MT (2018a) Data methodologies applied in the Western Australian diamond exploration package. Record, vol 2017/16. Geol Surv Western Australia, Perth, 24 pGoogle Scholar
  25. Hutchison, MT (2018b) Diamond exploration and prospectivity of Western Australia. Geol Surv Western Australia, Perth, Report 179, 70 pGoogle Scholar
  26. Januszczak N, Seller MH, Kurszlaukis S, Murphy C, Delgaty J, Tappe S, Ali K, Zhu J, Ellemers P (2013) A multidisciplinary approach to the Attawapiskat Kimberlite Field, Canada: accelerating the discovery-to-production pipeline. In: Pearson DJ et al (eds) Proceedings of the 10th International Kimberlite Conference, vol 2. Springer, New Delhi, pp 157–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaques AL (2016) Major and trace element variations in oxide and titanate minerals in the West Kimberley lamproites, Western Australia. Mineral Petrol 110:159–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jaques AL, Webb AW, Fanning CM, Black LP, Pidgeon RT, Ferguson J, Smith CB, Gregory GP (1984a) The age of the diamond bearing pipes and associated leucite lamproite pipes of the West Kimberley region, Western Australia. BMRJ Australia Geol Geophys 9:1–7Google Scholar
  29. Jaques AL, Lewis JD, Smith CB, Gregory GP, Ferguson J, Chappell BW, McCulloch MT (1984b) The diamond-bearing ultrapotassic (lamproitic) rocks of the West Kimberley region, Western Australia. In: Kornprobst J (ed) Kimberlites I: kimberlites and related rocks. Dev Petrol, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 225–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jaques AL, O’Neill HS-C, Smith CB, Moon J, Chappell BW (1990) Diamondiferous peridotite xenoliths from the Argyle (AK1) lamproite pipe, Western Australia. Contrib Mineral Petrol 104:255–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jourdan F, Thern E, Wilde SA, Frewer L (2012) 40Ar/39Ar dating of unusual minerals (tourmaline, K-richterite, yimengite, wadeite and priderite) and applicability to the geological record. Geophys Res Abstr 14:EGU2012–EGU6858Google Scholar
  32. Kennett BLN, Salmon M, Saygin E, AusMoho Working Group (2011) AusMoho: the variation of Moho depth. Australia Geophys J Int 187:946–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kennett BLN, Fichtner A, Fishwick S, Yoshizawa K (2013) Australian Seismological Refence Model (AuSREM): mantle component. Geophys J Int 192:871–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Killar J (1972) Ocean Ventures Pty Limited, Edel No. 1, Well Completion Report; Basic & Interpretive Data. Geol Surv Western Australia Stat Petroleum Exploration Rep, Petroleum Archive ID W 727 A1 — Primary Relation W000834 (unpublished report)Google Scholar
  35. Liu L-g, Mernagh TP, Jaques AL (1990) A mineralogical Raman spectroscopy study of eclogitic garnet inclusions in diamonds from Argyle. Contrib Mineral Petrol 105:156–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lucas H, Ramsay RR, Hall AE, Smith CB, Sobolev NV (1989) Garnets from West Australian kimberlites and related rocks. In: Ross J et al (eds) Kimberlites and related rocks vol 2 Geol Soc Australia Spec Pub vol 14. Blackwell, Scientific Publications, Carlton, pp 809–819Google Scholar
  37. Luguet A, Jaques AL, Pearson DG, Smith CB, Bulanova GP, Roffey SL, Rayner MJ, Lorand J-P (2009) An integrated petrological, geochemical and Re–Os isotope study of peridotite xenoliths from the Argyle lamproite, Western Australia and implications for cratonic diamond occurrences. Lithos 112S:1096–1108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin, DMcB, Hocking, RM, Riganti, A, Tyler, IM (2016) 1:10 000 000 tectonic units of Western Australia, 2016. Geol Surv Western Australia, digital data layer. http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/geoview. Accessed 15 November 2017
  39. Matchan E, Hergt J, Phillips D, Shee S (2009) The geochemistry, petrogenesis and age of an unusual alkaline intrusion in the western Pilbara craton, Western Australia. Lithos 112S:419–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McMartin I, McClenaghan MB (2001) Till geochemistry and sampling techniques in glaciated shield terrain: a review. In: McClenaghan MB, Bobrowsky PT, Hall GEM, Cook SJ (eds) Drift exploration in glaciated terrain. Geol Soc Spec Publ, vol 185, pp 19–83Google Scholar
  41. Mitchell RH (1986) Kimberlites mineralogy, geochemistry and petrology. Plenum Press, New York 441 pGoogle Scholar
  42. Muggeridge MT (1995) Pathfinder sampling techniques for locating primary sources of diamond: recovery of indicator minerals, diamonds and geochemical signatures. J Geochem Explor 53:183–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nixon PH, Thirwall MF, Buckley F, Davies CJ (1984) Spanish and Western Australian lamproites: aspects of whole rock chemistry. In: Kornprobst J (ed) Kimberlites I: kimberlites and related rocks. Dev Petrol, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 285–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nixon PH, Boyd FR, Lee DC (1987) Western Australia – xenoliths from kimberlites and lamproites. In: Nixon PH (ed) Mantle xenoliths. Wiley, Chichester, pp 283–286Google Scholar
  45. O’Neill CJ, Moresi L, Jaques AL (2005) Geodynamic controls on diamond deposits: implications for Australian occurrences. Tectonophysics 404:217–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Phillips D, Fourie LF, Kiviets, GB (1997) 40Ar/39Ar laser probe analysis of groundmass phlogopite grains from the Jewill kimberlite Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia. Anglo American Research Laboratories (unpublished report)Google Scholar
  47. Phillips D, Clarke W, Jaques AL (2012) New 40Ar/39Ar ages for the West Kimberley lamproites and implications for Australian plate geodynamics. In: Extended Abstracts of the 10th International Kimberlite Conference. 10IKC, Bangalore, India, pp 104Google Scholar
  48. Pidgeon RT, Smith CB, Fanning CM (1989) Kimberlite and lamproite emplacement ages in Western Australia. In: Ross J et al (eds) Kimberlite and related rocks. Volume 1. Their composition, occurrence, origin and emplacement, vol. 14. Geol Soc Australia Spec Publ, pp 369–381Google Scholar
  49. Ramsay RR (1992) Geochemistry of diamond indicator minerals. Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Western Australia PhD thesis (unpublished)Google Scholar
  50. Ramsay RR, Tompkins LA (1994) The geology, heavy mineral concentrate mineralogy, and diamond prospectivity of the Boa Eperança and Cana Verde Pipes, Corrego D'Anta, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerais–CPRM Spec Publ 1B Jan/94:329–345Google Scholar
  51. Reddicliffe TH (1999) Merlin Kimberlite Field Batten Province, Northern Territory. Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Western Australia, Perth, MSc thesis (unpublished) 221 pp and 3 appendicesGoogle Scholar
  52. Reddicliffe TH, Jakimowicz J, Hell A, Robins J (2003) The geology, mineralogy and near-surface characteristics of the Ashmore and Seppelt kimberlite clusters, North Kimberley Province, Australia. Ext Abs 8th Int Kimberlite Conf FLA_0139Google Scholar
  53. Robey JVA, Bristow JW, Marx MR, Joyce J, Danchin RV, Arnott F (1989) Alkaline ultrabasic dikes near Norseman. In: Ross J et al. (eds) Kimberlite and related rocks. Volume 1. Their composition, occurrence, origin and emplacement, vol. 14. Geol Soc Australia Spec Publ, pp 382–391Google Scholar
  54. Roffey S, Bishop S (2005) First annual report for the period ending 26 May 2005, E80/3166 Kurrajong, Argyle Orbit Programme, Lissadell SE52–02, Western Australia, Kimberley Mineral Field Geol Surv Western Australia, Stat Min Expl Rep A71011 (unpublished report), 14 ppGoogle Scholar
  55. Shee SR, Vercoe SC, Wyatt BA, Hwang PH, Campbell AN, Colgan EA (1999) Discovery and geology of the Nabberu Kimberlite Province, Western Australia. In: Gurney JJ et al. (eds) Proceedings of the VIIth International Kimberlite Conference vol 2. Red Roof Design, Cape Town, pp 764–772Google Scholar
  56. 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
  57. Towie NJ (2004) Hamersley Project Annual Mineral Exploration Report. Geol Surv Western Australia, Stat Min Expl Rep, A68110 (unpublished report), 120 pGoogle Scholar
  58. White B (2000) The geochronology and thermochronology of the Brockman Creek 01, Melita and Melita 02 kimberlites, Western Australia. Hons. Research Report, University of Melbourne (unpublished report)Google Scholar
  59. White SH, de Boorder H, Smith CB (1995) Structural controls of kimberlite and lamproite emplacement. J Geochem Explor 53:245–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wyatt BA, Sumpton JDH, Stiefenhofer J, Shee SR, Smith TW (1999) Kimberlites in the Forrest River area, Kimberley Region, Western Australia. In: Gurney JJ et al. (eds) Proceedings of the VIIth International Kimberlite Conference vol 1. Red Roof Design, Cape Town, 912–922Google Scholar
  61. Wyatt BA, Baumgartner M, Anckar E, Grütter H (2004) Compositional classification of "kimberlitic" and "nonkimberlitic" ilmenite. Lithos 77:819–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yaxley G (2008) Technique for the discrimination of diamond indicator chromites from those of other provenance, based on major, minor and trace element analysis. Northern Territory Geol Surv, Open File Company Rep, CR2008-0177 (unpublished report), Appendix 1Google Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trigon GeoServices LtdLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.Geological Survey of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations