We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Origins of olivine in Earth’s youngest kimberlite: Igwisi Hills volcanoes, Tanzania craton

Shaikh, Azhar M. and Tappe, Sebastian and Bussweiler, Yannick and Vollmer, Christian and Brown, Richard J. and EIMF, (2021) 'Origins of olivine in Earth’s youngest kimberlite: Igwisi Hills volcanoes, Tanzania craton.', Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 176 (8). p. 62.


Monomineralic millimeter-sized olivine nodules are common in kimberlites worldwide. It is generally thought that such ‘dunitic nodules’ originate from the base of the cratonic lithosphere and that their formation marks the onset of deep-rooted kimberlite magmatic plumbing systems. However, thermobarometric constraints to support such a model have been lacking thus far. This study focuses on the petrography and textures, as well as on pressure–temperature estimations, of well-preserved dunitic nodules from the Quaternary Igwisi Hills kimberlite lavas on the Tanzania craton, with the ultimate goal to constrain their origins. We utilize EBSD-determined textural information in combination with olivine geochemistry data determined by EPMA and LA-ICP-MS methods. We find that host olivine grains in these nodules are compositionally similar to olivine in garnet-facies cratonic mantle peridotites, and such an association is supported by garnet inclusions within olivine. Projection of Al-in-olivine temperatures onto a regional geotherm suggests that the host olivine grains equilibrated at ~ 100–145 km depth, which points to origins from mid-lithospheric levels down to the lower cratonic mantle if a depth of 160–180 km is considered for the lithosphere–asthenosphere transition beneath the Tanzania craton. These first pressure–temperature estimates for dunitic nodules in kimberlites suggest that their formation also occurs at much shallower depths than previously assumed. Recrystallized olivine grains (i.e., neoblasts) show random crystallographic orientations and are enriched in minor and trace elements (e.g., Ca, Al, Zn, Sc, V) compared to the host olivine grains. These features link neoblast formation to melt-assisted recrystallization of cratonic mantle peridotite, a process that persisted during kimberlite magma ascent through the lower half of thick continental lithosphere. Partial recrystallization of olivine-rich mantle xenoliths makes these materials texturally weaker and subsequent liberation of mineral grains promotes the assimilation of compositionally ‘unstable’ orthopyroxene in rising carbonate-rich melts, which is considered to be an important process in the evolution of kimberlite magmas. Dunitic nodules in kimberlites and related rocks may form as melt–rock equilibration zones along magmatic conduits within the lower half of the cratonic mantle column all the way up to mid-lithospheric depth. Such an origin potentially links dunitic nodules to olivine megacrysts, which are equally considered as melt/fluid-assisted recrystallization products of peridotitic mantle lithosphere along the ascent pathways of deep-sourced CO2–H2O-rich ultramafic melts.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a journal article published in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Date accepted:01 July 2021
Date deposited:02 November 2021
Date of first online publication:31 July 2021
Date first made open access:31 July 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar