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Journal Articles Journal of Petrology Year : 2010

Olivine, and the Origin of Kimberlite


Two types of olivine occur in kimberlites from Greenland, Canada and southern Africa. The first, xenocrystic olivine, displays several different forms. Most distinctive are 'nodules', a term we use to describe the large (1-5 mm), rounded, single crystals or polycrystalline aggregates that are a common constituent of many kimberlites. Olivine compositions are uniform within single nodules but vary widely from nodule to nodule, from Fo81 to 93. Within many nodules, sub- to euhedral asymmetric tablets have grown within larger anhedral olivine grains. Dislocation structures, particularly in the anhedral grains, demonstrate that this olivine was deformed before being incorporated into the kimberlite magma. Olivine grains in the kimberlite matrix between the nodules have morphologies similar to those of the tablets, suggesting that most matrix olivine grains are parts of disaggregated nodules. We propose that a sub- to euhedral form is not sufficient to identify phenocrysts in kimberlites and provide some criteria, based on morphology, internal deformation and composition, that distinguish phenocrysts from xenocrysts. The second type of olivine is restricted to rims surrounding xenocrystic grains. Only this olivine crystallized from the kimberlite magma. Major and trace element data for the rim olivine are used to calculate the composition of the parental kimberlite liquid, which is found to contain between about 20 and 30% MgO. The bulk compositions of many kimberlites contain higher MgO contents as a result of the presence of xenocrystic olivine. The monomineralic, dunitic, character of the nodules, and the wide range from Fo-rich to Fo-poor olivine compositions, provide major constraints on the origin of the nodules. Dunite is a relatively rare rock in the mantle and where present its olivine is persistently Fo-rich. The dunitic source of the nodules in kimberlites lacked minerals such as pyroxene and an aluminous phase, which make up about half of most mantle-derived rocks. It appears that these minerals were removed from the mantle peridotite that was to become the source of the nodules, and the Fo content of the retained olivine was modified during interaction with CO2-rich fluids whose arrival at the base of the lithosphere immediately preceded the passage of the kimberlite magmas. Fragments of the resultant dunite were entrained into the kimberlite, where they were retained both as intact nodules and as disaggregated grains in the matrix.



Dates and versions

insu-00543321 , version 1 (06-12-2010)



Nicholas Arndt, M. Guitreau, Anne Marie Boullier, A. Le Roex, Andrea Tommasi, et al.. Olivine, and the Origin of Kimberlite. Journal of Petrology, 2010, 51 (3), pp.573-602. ⟨10.1093/petrology/egp080⟩. ⟨insu-00543321⟩
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