UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kimberlitic olivine Brett, Richard Curtis


Kimberlite hosts two populations of olivine that are distinguished on the basis of grain size and morphology; the populations are commonly described genetically as xenocrysts and phenocrysts. Recent studies of zoning patterns in kimberlitic olivine phenocrysts have cast doubt on the actual origins of the smaller olivine crystals. Here, we elucidate the nature and origins of the textural and chemical zonation that characterize both populations of olivine. Specifically, we show that both olivine-I and olivine-II feature chemically distinct overgrowths resulting from magmatic crystallization on pre-existing olivine xenocrysts. These results suggest that the total volume of olivine crystallized during transport is substantially lower (≤5%) than commonly assumed (e.g. ~25%), and that crystallization is dominantly heterogeneous. This reduces estimates of the Mg# in primitive kimberlite melt to more closely reconcile with measured phenocryst compositions. Several additional textures are observed in olivine, and include: sealed cracks, healed cracks, phases trapping in cracks, rounded grains, overgrowths and phase trapping in overgrowths. These features record processes that operate in kimberlite during ascent, and from these features we create a summary model for kimberlite ascent: • Olivine is incorporated into kimberlitic melts at great depths as peridotitic mantle xenoliths. • Shortly after the incorporation of these xenocrysts the tensile strength of the crystals within xenoliths is reached at a minimum of 20 km from its source. Disaggregation of mantle xenoliths producing xenocrysts is facilitated by expansion of the minerals within the xenoliths. • The void space produced by the failure of the crystals is filled with melt and crystals consisting of primary carbonate (high-Sr), chromite and spinel crystals. The carbonate later crystallizes to produce sealed fractures. • Subsequent decompression causes cracks that are smaller than the sealed cracks and are preserved as healed cracks that crosscut sealed cracks. • Mechanical rounding of the xenocrysts post-dates, and/or occurs contemporaneously with decompression events that cause cracking. • Saturation of olivine produces rounded overgrowths on large xenocrysts, euhedral overgrowths on smaller xenocrysts, and a volumetrically minor population of olivine phenocrysts. Olivine growth traps fluid, solid and melt inclusions. Calculations based on these relationships suggest that the melt saturates with olivine at a maximum depth of 20 km and a minimum depth of 7 km.

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