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Carbon isotopes and nitrogen contents in placer diamonds from the NE Siberian craton: implications for diamond origins

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Diamonds from placer deposits in the northeastern Siberian platform were examined for variations in the isotopic composition of carbon and concentrations of nitrogen. The diamonds display large variability in N concentrations, ranging from below detection to 3500 ppm. Nitrogen levels in diamonds with eclogitic inclusions are generally high (average of 950 ppm) compared to diamonds of the ultramafic suite (average of 513 ppm). Diamonds belonging to variety V (classification scheme of Orlov, 1977) have relatively high N levels (from 1500 to 3500 ppm, average of 2549 ppm). The average nitrogen level is five times higher than the worldwide average. Values of δ13C in the diamonds range from −27.2 to −3‰ (n = 28) in eclogitic diamonds and from −7.1 to −0.5‰ (n = 16) in peridotitic diamonds. Diamonds of variety V range in δ13C from −24.1 to −17.4‰.

The distributions of nitrogen and its aggregation state in some diamond crystals imply the occurrence of multiple growth events. This is especially evident in the nitrogen content, which decreases and then increases from core to rim. The results indicate that there is no correlation between local variations in the isotopic composition of carbon and either the content or degree of aggregation of nitrogen. The diamonds of variety V differ from most diamonds worldwide in their high N content and light C-isotope composition. The large ranges of δ13C and the lack of correlation with nitrogen levels are inconsistent with the open-system Rayleigh isotopic fractionation of carbon species. The nature of the variations in the carbon isotope composition and the nitrogen concentrations indicate that the diamond growth medium had at least two sources of fluids/melts (mantle and recycled Earth crust via subduction). Mantle carbon was involved in the process of diamond formation during the final stages of diamond growth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • The European Journal of Mineralogy publishes original papers, review articles and letters dealing with the mineralogical sciences s.l. These include primarily mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, crystallography and ore deposits, as well as environmental, applied and technical mineralogy. Nevertheless, papers in any related field, including cultural heritage, will be considered.
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