University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Dissolution of mantle orthopyroxene in kimberlitic melts: petrographic, geochemical and melt inclusion constraints from an orthopyroxenite xenolith from the Udachnaya-East kimberlite (Siberian Craton, Russia)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 07:02 authored by Abersteiner, A, Vadim Kamenetsky, Golovin, A, Karsten GoemannKarsten Goemann, Ehrig, K

Reconstructing the original composition of kimberlite melts in the mantle and delineating the processes that modify them during magmatic ascent and emplacement in the crust remains a significant challenge in kimberlite petrology. One of the most significant processes commonly cited to drive initial kimberlite melts towards more Si-Mg-rich compositions and decrease the solubility of CO2 is the assimilation of mantle orthopyroxene. However, there is limited direct evidence to show the types of reactions that may occur between mantle orthopyroxene and the host kimberlite melt.

To provide new constraints on the interaction between orthopyroxene and parental kimberlite melts, we examined a fresh (i.e. unmodified by secondary/post-magmatic alteration) orthopyroxenite xenolith, which was recovered from the serpentine-free units of the Udachnaya-East kimberlite (Siberian Craton, Russia). This xenolith is composed largely of orthopyroxene (~ 90%), along with lesser olivine and clinopyroxene and rare aluminous magnesian chromite. We can show that this xenolith was invaded by the host kimberlite melt along grain interstices and fractures, where it partially reacted with orthopyroxene along the grain boundaries and replaced it with aggregates of compositionally distinct clinopyroxene, olivine and phlogopite, along with subordinate Fe-Cr-Mg spinel, FeNi sulphides and djerfisherite (K6(Fe,Ni,Cu)25S26Cl).

Primary melt inclusions in clinopyroxene replacing xenolith-forming orthopyroxene, as well as secondary melt inclusion trails in xenolith orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene and olivine are composed of similar daughter mineral assemblages that consist largely of: NaK chlorides, along with varying proportions of phlogopite, Fe-Cu-Ni sulphides, djerfisherite, rasvumite (KFe2S3), Cr-Fe-Mg spinel, nepheline and apatite, and rare rutile, sodalite, barite, olivine, Ca-K-Na carbonates and NaK sulphates. The melt entrapped by these inclusions likely represent the hybrid products produced by the invading kimberlite melt reacting with orthopyroxene in the xenolith.

The mechanism that could explain the partial replacement of orthopyroxene in this xenolith by clinopyroxene, olivine and phlogopite could be attributed to the following reaction:

Orthopyroxene + Carbonatitic (melt) ➔ Olivine + Clinopyroxene + Phlogopite + CO2.

This reaction is supported by theoretical and experimental studies that advocate the dissolution of mantle orthopyroxene within an initially silica-poor and carbonate-rich kimberlite melt. The mineral assemblages replacing orthopyroxene in the xenolith, together with hosted melt inclusions, suggests that the kimberlitic melt prior to reaction with orthopyroxene was likely carbonate-rich and Na-K-Cl-S bearing. The paucity of carbonate in the reaction zones around orthopyroxene and in melt inclusions in clinopyroxene replacing xenolith-forming orthopyroxene and xenolith minerals (orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene and olivine) is attributed to the consumption of carbonates and subsequent exsolution of CO2 by the proposed decarbonation reaction.

Concluding, we propose that this orthopyroxenite xenolith provides a rare example of the types of reactions that can occur between mantle orthopyroxene and the host kimberlite melt. The preservation of this xenolith and zones around orthopyroxene present new insights into the composition and evolution of parental kimberlite melts and CO2 exsolution.


Publication title




Article number









School of Natural Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

© 2021 Elsevier B.V

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager