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Kimberlite magmatism fed by upwelling above mobile basal mantle structures


Most diamonds have been transported to Earth’s surface from depths between ~120 km and ~660 km by volatile-rich magmas called kimberlites. The reconstructed locations of kimberlites erupted in the past 320 million years have been shown to be correlated with seismically imaged large basal mantle structures at ~2,800 km depth. This correlation has been interpreted as requiring basal mantle structures to be stationary over time. However, the geodynamic process responsible for this correlation remains to be identified. Here we use global mantle convection models including a basal layer of dense material and driven by surface plate motions to show that broad mantle upwelling preferentially occurring above basal mantle structures provides the source of heat for kimberlite magmatism. We find that kimberlite eruption locations are statistically as correlated with the mobile basal mantle structures predicted by our models as those imaged by tomographic models, indicating that there is no need to consider basal mantle structures to be stationary. Our models indicate that deep mantle material is carried to the surface by mantle plumes, which is consistent with the geochemical signature of some kimberlites.

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Fig. 1: Shear-wave velocity anomalies at reconstructed kimberlite eruption locations.
Fig. 2: Radial heat advection and reconstructed kimberlites.
Fig. 3: Distances and statistical relationships between reconstructed kimberlite eruption locations and the nearest hot mantle upwelling.
Fig. 4: Basal mantle transported to the surface from the CMB by mantle plumes.
Fig. 5: Chemically distinct kimberlites fed by mantle plumes carrying basal mantle material to the surface.

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Data availability

Data generated for this study are available at and Kimberlite eruption locations and age of emplacement are from ref. 17. Tomographic model depth slices for S40RTS are available at Submachine46, GyPSuM-S is available at, Savani is available at and SEMUCB-WM1 is available at Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

Codes created for this study are available at and The code used to compute the global mantle flow models is available at We used Generic Mapping Tools47 (GMT6) for creating maps, Matplotlib48 for plotting, Pandas (1.5.3) Python library49 for model output analysis and ParaView 5.9.1 (ref. 50) for visualization and analysis of mantle flow models.


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Ö.F.B. and N.F. were supported by Australian Research Council grant LP170100863 (industry partner: De Beers). This research was undertaken with the assistance of resources from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), which is supported by the Australian Government. Access to NCI was supported partly by resources and services from the University of Wollongong (UOW). Ö.F.B. acknowledges suggestions by M. Feng about artwork.

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Authors and Affiliations



Ö.F.B. contributed to conceptualizing this work, writing the original draft, carrying out revisions and creating visuals and codes. N.F. secured funding for this research and contributed to its conceptualization and to writing and reviewing the paper and revisions.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ömer F. Bodur.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Geoscience thanks Mark Hoggard, Maxwell Rudolph and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Primary Handling Editors: Rebecca Neely and Louise Hawkins, in collaboration with the Nature Geoscience team.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Temperature and viscosity profiles in Case 1.

(a) Horizontal-average of the temperature profile (black line) between 200 Ma and present-day with error bars (red). (b) The horizontally-averaged viscosity profile at 180 Ma (black line) is shown with maximum and minimum viscosities at each depth.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Subduction zones at 1 Ga.

Slabs are inserted down to 1,000 km depth from reconstructed subduction zones (red lines)50. Reconstructed cratonic blocks are shown as shaded polygons22.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Distance to LLSVPs and whole mantle averaged radial heat advection in mantle flow models.

Angular distance to LLSVP near the base of the mantle at 180 Ma at indicated depths are shown for tomographic models (a) S40RTS20, (b) GyPSuM-S19, (c) Savani21 and (d) SEMUCB-WM118 (filtered to spherical harmonic degree lmax = 12). The boundaries of LLSVPs are determined by the contour δVs = −0.3% (−0.1% for SEMUCB-WM1 (lmax = 12) due to a decrease in power after filtering) and the distance is equal to zero within the contour. Reconstructed cratonic shapes are shown in grey polygons. Angular distance to the depth-averaged RHA \(\bar J(\theta ,\varphi )\) (between 322 km and 2,867 km depths) is shown for Cases 1-4 (e-h) at 180 Ma, with the distance is equal to zero within the contour \(\bar J = 1\;{{{\mathrm{K}}}}\;{{{\mathrm{m}}}}\;{{{\mathrm{yr}}}}^{ - 1}\).

Extended Data Fig. 4 Radial heat advection in the upper and lower mantle.

Radial heat advection \(\bar J(\theta ,\varphi )\) ≥ 1 K m yr−1 at 180 Ma for Case 1, averaged for a) upper mantle depths and b) lower mantle depths.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 5 Fractional area of RHA in Case 1 at 180 Ma and of LLSVPs in tomographic models.

Fractional area covered by the depth-averaged radial heat advection field in Case 1 at 180 Ma and by LLSVP defined by δVs (%) contours in tomographic models for indicated depths at the base of the mantle.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Depth-averaged radial heat advection over time.

Radial heat advection averaged between 322 km and 2,867 km \(\bar J(\theta ,\varphi )\) shown at (a) 200 Ma, (b) 160 Ma, (c) 140 Ma, (d) 120 Ma, (e) 100 Ma, (f) 80 Ma, (g) 60 Ma and (h) 40 Ma overlain by reconstructed cratonic blocks22 and kimberlites (coloured circles).

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 7 Comparison of mean distance to reconstructed kimberlites over time and K-S statistical rates in capturing kimberlite emplacement over time for mantle flow model Case 1 and tomographic models.

(a-b) Mean distances (with one standard deviation shown as one-sided error bars) between radial heat advection averaged between 322 km and 2,867 km \(\bar J(\theta ,\varphi )\) for Case 1 and its K-S statistical test is compared with mean distances (and their statistics) between LLSVPs imaged by tomographic models GyPSuM-S and Savani and reconstructed kimberlites over time. Sample size is given in (a). (c) Success rates of K-S statistical test with varying dVs(%) contours in different tomographic models which give the same fractional area as Case 1 for each time. (d-e) Mean distances and K-S tests for Case 1 as well as fixed RHA \(\bar J(\theta ,\varphi ,t)|_0^{t = 200\;Ma}\) time averaged between 200 Ma and 0 Ma.

Extended Data Fig. 8 Distance and statistical relationships between reconstructed kimberlite eruption locations and the nearest hot mantle upwelling for geodynamic model Cases 1-4.

(a,b) Mean distances between reconstructed kimberlites and (a) whole mantle, upper mantle, and lower mantle averaged RHA for Case 1, and (b) whole mantle averaged RHA for Cases 1-4 with shown with one sided error bars. Sample size is given in (a). The Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistical test success out of 1,000 random iterations is shown as a percentage for (c) different depth averages of RHA for Case 1 and (d) whole mantle depth averages or RHA for all Cases 1-4.

Extended Data Fig. 9 Sensitivity to lithospheric thickness.

(a) Lithospheric blocks22,32 used for the statistical analysis. The silver-coloured polygons are from ref. 22 for which the statistical results are presented in Fig. 3b. The green-coloured polygons are determined from lithosphere thicker than 150 km (ref. 32,33). Kimberlite eruption locations are shown in black. (b) Mean distances to kimberlites + one standard deviation shown as one-sided error bars and (c) K-S statistical test results for four tomographic models using only lithosphere thicker than 150 km. Sample size is given in (b).

Extended Data Fig. 10 Ascent of basal mantle material (BMM) tracers over time.

Horizontally averaged tracer volume is given relative to the base of the mantle over time between 1 Ga and present day for (a) Case 2 (+1.44 %), (b) Case 1 (+1.00 %) and (c) Case 3 (+0.00 %). The time interval is 20 Myr for Cases 1-2, and 40 Myr for Case 3.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Captions for Supplementary Videos 1–5 and caption for Supplementary Table 1.

Supplementary Table 1

Chemically distinct kimberlites.

Supplementary Video 1

Kimberlite emplacement and 3D radial heat advection for hot mantle upwellings for the reference model (Case 1).

Supplementary Video 2

Kimberlite emplacement and 3D radial heat advection for hot mantle upwellings for Case 2.

Supplementary Video 3

Kimberlite emplacement and 3D radial heat advection for hot mantle upwellings for Case 3.

Supplementary Video 4

Kimberlite emplacement and 3D radial heat advection for hot mantle upwellings for Case 4.

Supplementary Video 5

Kimberlite emplacement and depth-averaged radial heat advection in the upper and lower mantles for Case 1.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 4

Statistical source data.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 6

Statistical source data.

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Bodur, Ö.F., Flament, N. Kimberlite magmatism fed by upwelling above mobile basal mantle structures. Nat. Geosci. 16, 534–540 (2023).

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