Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 112, Supplement 1, pp 181–195 | Cite as

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

  • Suzette TimmermanEmail author
  • Masahiko Honda
  • David Phillips
  • Alan L. Jaques
  • Jeffrey W. Harris
Original Paper


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.


Carbon Fibrous diamond High-density fluid (HDF) Noble gases Subduction 



We thank Peter Holden (SHRIMP) and Xiaodong Zhang (VG5400) for their assistance with the analytical work. The authors acknowledge the facilities, and the scientific and technical assistance, of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre of Advanced Microscopy, The Australian National University. The Diamond Trading Company (a member of the DeBeers Group of Companies) is thanked for the donation of the diamonds used in this study to JWH. We thank Ray Burgess, Yaakov Weiss and editor Oded Navon for their helpful comments that greatly improved the presentation of this paper. This work was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP140101976) to MH, ALJ, DP, and Deborah Araujo, and AGRTP and Ringwood scholarships to ST.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.School of Geographical and Earth SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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