Letter | Published:

Highly saline fluids from a subducting slab as the source for fluid-rich diamonds

Nature volume 524, pages 339342 (20 August 2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

The infiltration of fluids into continental lithospheric mantle is a key mechanism for controlling abrupt changes in the chemical and physical properties of the lithospheric root1,2, as well as diamond formation3, yet the origin and composition of the fluids involved are still poorly constrained. Such fluids are trapped within diamonds when they form4,5,6,7 and so diamonds provide a unique means of directly characterizing the fluids that percolate through the deep continental lithospheric mantle. Here we show a clear chemical evolutionary trend, identifying saline fluids as parental to silicic and carbonatitic deep mantle melts, in diamonds from the Northwest Territories, Canada. Fluid–rock interaction along with in situ melting cause compositional transitions, as the saline fluids traverse mixed peridotite–eclogite lithosphere. Moreover, the chemistry of the parental saline fluids—especially their strontium isotopic compositions—and the timing of host diamond formation suggest that a subducting Mesozoic plate under western North America is the source of the fluids. Our results imply a strong association between subduction, mantle metasomatism and fluid-rich diamond formation, emphasizing the importance of subduction-derived fluids in affecting the composition of the deep lithospheric mantle.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , & Physical, chemical and chronologic characteristics of continental mantle. Rev. Geophys. 43, RG1001 (2005)

  2. 2.

    , , & The composition and evolution of lithospheric mantle: a re-evaluation and its tectonic implications. J. Petrol. 50, 1185–1204 (2009)

  3. 3.

    et al. Diamonds and the geology of mantle carbon. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 75, 355–421 (2013)

  4. 4.

    , , & Mantle derived fluids in diamond micro inclusions. Nature 335, 784–789 (1988)

  5. 5.

    , & Co-existing fluid and silicate inclusions in mantle diamond. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 250, 581–595 (2006)

  6. 6.

    , , & Fluid inclusions in diamonds from the Diavik mine, Canada and the evolution of diamond-forming fluids. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 723–744 (2007)

  7. 7.

    et al. A new model for the evolution of diamond-forming fluids: evidence from microinclusion-bearing diamonds from Kankan, Guinea. Lithos 112, 660–674 (2009)

  8. 8.

    , , & Oxidation state of the lithospheric mantle beneath Diavik diamond mine, central Slave craton, NWT, Canada. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 159, 645–657 (2010)

  9. 9.

    , & in Kimberlites, Related Rocks and Mantle Xenoliths Vol. 1 (eds & ) 336–353 (Proc. Fifth Int. Kimb. Conf., C.P.R.M., 1994)

  10. 10.

    et al. The trace element composition of silicate inclusions in diamonds: a review. Lithos 77, 1–19 (2004)

  11. 11.

    , , & High-Mg carbonatitic melts in diamonds, kimberlites and the subcontinental lithosphere. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 309, 337–347 (2011)

  12. 12.

    et al. The source and time-integrated evolution of diamond-forming fluids—trace element and Sr isotopic evidence. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 125, 146–169 (2014)

  13. 13.

    , & Diamond-forming fluids in fibrous diamonds: the trace-element perspective. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 376, 110–125 (2013)

  14. 14.

    , & A snapshot of mantle metasomatism: trace element analysis of coexisting fluid (LAICP-MS) and silicate (SIMS) inclusions in fibrous diamonds. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 279, 362–372 (2009)

  15. 15.

    , , & Geochemical implications of rare earth element patterns in hydrothermal fluids from mid-ocean ridges. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 58, 5105–5113 (1994)

  16. 16.

    & REE controls in ultramafic hosted MOR hydrothermal systems: an experimental study at elevated temperature and pressure. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 69, 675–683 (2005)

  17. 17.

    et al. The geochemical consequences of late-stage low-grade alteration of lower ocean crust at the SW Indian Ridge: results from ODP Hole 735B (Leg 176). Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 65, 3267–3287 (2001)

  18. 18.

    , & Trace element and isotopic characterization of mafic cumulates in a fossil mantle diaper (Oman ophiolite). Chem. Geol. 134, 199–214 (1996)

  19. 19.

    & Generation of mobile components during subduction of oceanic crust. Treatise Geochem. 3, 567–591 (2003)

  20. 20.

    et al. Synthetic hypersilicic Cl bearing mica in the phlogopite–celadonite join: a multimethodical characterization of the missing link between di- and tri-octahedral micas at high pressures. Am. Mineral. 93, 1429–1436 (2008)

  21. 21.

    et al. Subduction signature for quenched carbonatites from the deep lithosphere. Geology 30, 743–746 (2002)

  22. 22.

    , , & Origins of xenolithic eclogites and pyroxenites from the central Slave craton, Canada. J. Petrol. 48, 1843–1873 (2007)

  23. 23.

    , & New insight into polycrystalline diamond genesis from modern nanoanalytical techniques. Earth Sci. Rev. 136, 21–35 (2014)

  24. 24.

    et al. Circum-Arctic mantle structure and long-wavelength topography since the Jurassic. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 119, 7889–7908 (2014)

  25. 25.

    & Are diamond-bearing Cretaceous kimberlites related to low-angle subduction beneath western North America? Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 303, 59–70 (2011)

  26. 26.

    & Seawater strontium isotopes, oceanic anoxic events, and seafloor hydrothermal activity in the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Am. J. Sci. 301, 112–149 (2001)

  27. 27.

    , , & Lateral variation in upper mantle viscosity: role of water. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 222, 451–467 (2004)

  28. 28.

    et al. Evolution of Navajo eclogites and hydration of the mantle wedge below the Colorado Plateau, southwestern United States. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 5, (2004)

  29. 29.

    , & In situ serpentinization and hydrous fluid metasomatism in spinel dunite xenoliths from the Bearpaw Mountains, Montana, USA. J. Petrol. 50, 1443–1475 (2009)

  30. 30.

    & Chlorine enrichment in central Rio Grande Rift basaltic melt inclusions: evidence for subduction modification of the lithospheric mantle. Geology 37, 439–442 (2009)

  31. 31.

    , & The relationship between infrared absorption and the A defect concentration in diamond. Philos. Mag. B 69, 1149–1153 (1994)

  32. 32.

    , & Infrared absorption by the B nitrogen aggregation in diamond. Philos. Mag. B 72, 351–361 (1995)

  33. 33.

    , , , & Infrared absorption by the single nitrogen and A defect centres in diamond. Philos. Mag. B 69, 1141–1147 (1994)

  34. 34.

    Optical Properties of Diamond Handbook 502 (Springer, 2001)

  35. 35.

    & IR spectroscopy: quantitative determination of the mineralogy and bulk composition of fluid microinclusions in diamonds. Chem. Geol. 275, 26–34 (2010)

  36. 36.

    & in Electron Probe Quantitation, Workshop at the National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, Maryland (eds & ) 145–161 (Plenum, 1991)

  37. 37.

    et al. Methods for the microsampling and highprecision analysis of strontium and rubidium isotopes at single crystal scale for petrological and geochronological applications. Chem. Geol. 232, 114–133 (2006)

  38. 38.

    , , , & Combined Sr isotope and trace element analysis of melt inclusions at sub-ng levels using micro-milling, TIMS and ICPMS. Chem. Geol. 260, 254–268 (2009)

  39. 39.

    Limits for qualitative detection and quantitative determination. Application to radiochemistry. Anal. Chem. 40, 586 (1968)

  40. 40.

    , , , & isotope analysis of bird feathers by TIMS: a tool to trace bird migration paths and breeding sites. J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 22, 513–522 (2007)

  41. 41.

    et al. Mixed fluid sources involved in diamond growth constrained by Sr-Nd-Pb-C-N isotopes and trace elements. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 289, 123–133 (2010)

  42. 42.

    & The origin of cratonic diamonds—constraints from mineral inclusions. Ore Geol. Rev. 34, 5–32 (2008)

  43. 43.

    , & Kinetics of Ib to IaA nitrogen aggregation in diamond. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 60, 4725–4733 (1996)

  44. 44.

    , & Nitrogen-defect aggregation characteristics of some Australasian diamonds: time–temperature constraints on the source regions of pipe and alluvial diamonds. Am. Mineral. 75, 1290–1310 (1990)

  45. 45.

    , , & Mantle fluid evolution—a tale of one diamond. Lithos 77, 243–253 (2004)

  46. 46.

    , & Duration and periodicity of kimberlite volcanic activity in the Lac de Gras kimberlite field, Canada and some recommendations for kimberlite geochronology. Lithos 218–219, 155–166 (2015)

Download references

Acknowledgements

Y.W. acknowledges his Lamont postdoctoral fellowship and National Science Foundation grant no. 1348045. We thank T. Stachel and D. Walker for discussions and J. J. Gurney, J. Carlson, T. Nowicki and BHP Minerals/Dominion Diamonds for access to diamonds from the Ekati mine. J.M. was funded by a scholarship from the Diamond Trading Company at Durham University. D.G.P. completed this work under tenure of a Canada Excellence Research Chair, with support from the Deep Carbon Observatory (Sloan Foundation). Y.W. thanks Israel Science Foundation grant number 435/12 for funding the EPMA and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analyses at the Hebrew University. D. E. Jacob, M. Santosh and M. Walter made excellent suggestions that greatly improved this paper. This is Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory contribution number 7908.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, New York 10964, USA

    • Yaakov Weiss
  2. Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

    • John McNeill
    • , Geoff M. Nowell
    •  & Chris J. Ottley
  3. Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E3, Canada

    • D. Graham Pearson

Authors

  1. Search for Yaakov Weiss in:

  2. Search for John McNeill in:

  3. Search for D. Graham Pearson in:

  4. Search for Geoff M. Nowell in:

  5. Search for Chris J. Ottley in:

Contributions

Y.W. preformed the EPMA and FTIR analyses and conceived and developed the model. Y.W. and D.G.P. wrote the paper. D.G.P., G.M.N. and J.M. jointly developed the in situ closed-cell laser ablation analytical technique used. D.G.P. supervised the trace element and isotopic measurements performed by J.M. C.J.O. aided in sample preparation and measurements. All authors contributed intellectually to the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yaakov Weiss.

Sample metadata have been archived in the System for Earth Sample Registration (SESAR) with associated International GeoSample Numbers (IGSNs). The data set can be found in the EarthChem library (http://doi.org/10.1594/IEDA/100540).

Extended data

Supplementary information

Excel files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Tables 1-4.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Data

    This file contains individual microinclusion EPMA analyses, HDFs and Minerals.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14857

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.