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New insights into volcanic processes from deep mining of the southern diatreme within the Argyle lamproite pipe, Western Australia

  • Murray J. Rayner
  • Stephen W. Moss
  • Volker Lorenz
  • A. Lynton Jaques
  • Grant L. Boxer
  • Chris B. Smith
  • Kimberley Webb
Original Paper

Abstract

Underground mining and deep drilling of the richly diamondiferous ~1.2 Ga Argyle lamproite in Western Australia has prompted a re-evaluation of the geology of the pipe. Argyle is considered to be a composite pipe that formed by the coalescence of several diatremes and has been offset and elongated by post-emplacement faulting. Recent geological studies have recognised at least five distinct volcaniclastic lamproite lithofacies with differing diamond grades. The new data suggest that the centre of the southern (main) diatreme is occupied by well-bedded, olivine lamproite lapilli tuff with very high diamond grades (>10 ct/t). Characteristic features include a clast-supported fabric and high modal abundance of densely packed lamproite lapilli and coarse-grained, likely mantle-derived olivine now replaced by serpentine and/or talc. The persistence of small-scale graded and cross-bedding in this lithofacies to depths of ~1.5 km below the original surface prior to erosion suggests phreatomagmatic volcanism forming the diatreme was syn-eruptively accompanied by subsidence of the tephra, maintaining a steep-walled diatreme in the water-saturated country rock sediments.

Keywords

Olivine lamproite Diatreme Phreatomagmatism Volcaniclastics Diamond pipe 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the many geologists that over the years have contributed to the current understanding of the geology of the Argyle pipe and the support of Rio Tinto in this study. We thank journal reviewers Wayne Barnett and Stephan Kurszlaukis for their constructive reviews and guest editor Casey M. Hetman for his handling of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray J. Rayner
    • 1
  • Stephen W. Moss
    • 2
    • 3
  • Volker Lorenz
    • 4
  • A. Lynton Jaques
    • 5
  • Grant L. Boxer
    • 6
  • Chris B. Smith
    • 7
  • Kimberley Webb
    • 2
    • 8
  1. 1.Argyle Diamonds, Rio TintoPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Mineral Services CanadaNorth VancouverCanada
  3. 3.Terram Vero Consulting Inc.VancouverCanada
  4. 4.Physical Volcanological Laboratory, Department of Geography and GeologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  5. 5.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia
  6. 6.MaylandsAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  8. 8.SRK ConsultingVancouverCanada

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