Paper No. 8-3
Presentation Time: 2:10 PM
THE KIMBERLITE FACTORY: THE VOLCANIC NATURE OF KIMBERLITES
Although traditionally considered the realm of igneous petrologists and geochemists, kimberlites have received attention from physical volcanologists interested in how they are emplaced in the crust and how they can erupt. This presentation will review the evidence for the volcaniclastic (i.e. fragmental) nature of kimberlites from examples in Canada's Northwest Territories and in Pennsylvania. A growing body of evidence indicates that kimberlite magmas are gas-dominated (overwhelmingly CO2) suspensions of molten kimberlite liquid and crystals, usually olivines. The olivines, like other mineral phases and xenoliths, are entrained from the surrounding mantle peridotite wall-rock, rather than crystallized from the meager kimberlite liquid, and are, therefore, overwhelmingly xenocrystic. This crystal and rock fragment load is sampled and mechanically processed by a turbulent gas-jet before being immersed in a bath of kimberlite liquid: this is the kimberlite factory. As the gas-charged crack-tip propagates and ascends, new mantle is processed into the kimberlite factory. Each emplacement event records the passage of a kimberlite factory through the mantle and lithosphere. The Masontown kimberlite in Pennsylvania is a solitary hypabyssal kimberlite dyke but it preserves evidence of the passage of a single kimberlite factory. Although many kimberlites stall in the crust, many erupt explosively to produce indisputably volcaniclastic kimberlite lithofacies associated with diatremes. Open-pit mining of several diatremes in Canada reveals the complex temporal-spatial nature of different emplacement events within the same volcanic field, and the ubiquitous presence of hypabyssal kimberlite dykes that fed or attempted to feed explosive eruptions. Such explosive eruptions sustained tephra plumes that produced kimberlite fall deposits and pyroclastic density currents that produced kimberlite ignimbrites; both of which exited their source diatremes and inundated the surrounding landscape.