Stable and radiogenic isotope study of eclogite xenoliths from the Orapa kimberlite, Botswana

K. S. Viljoen, Craig B. Smith, Z. D. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Eclogite xenoliths from Orapa can be accurately classified as Group I or Group II on the basis of Na2O in garnet and K2O in clinopyroxene. Group I xenoliths are commonly diamondiferous while Group II xenoliths are diamond-free. Both xenolith varieties may contain graphite. Isotopic character is to some degree correlated with major- and trace-element chemistry. Group II samples with Ca-poor garnet have clinopyroxenes with radiogenic 87Sr/ 86Sr (0.705-0.709) and the least radiogenic 143Nd/144Nd (0.5122-0.5125). Group I eclogites with higher Ca and Fe in garnets have less radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (0.702-0.7066) and bulk-Earth or higher 143Nd/144Nd ratios. Group I eclogites have more radiogenic 206Pb/204Pb (18.6-19) than Group II xenoliths (16.5-18.6). In contrast, Group II xenoliths have more variable and, in some cases, more radiogenic 208Pb/204Pb (36.6-39.3) than Group I xenoliths (38.3-38.4). The Sr, Sm, Nd and Pb concentrations of minerals in Orapa Group I eclogite xenoliths are much lower than in Group II samples. All the Group II xenoliths are inferred to be enriched in light rare-earth elements while Group I xenoliths are probably characterised in many cases by light rare-earth element depletion. Constituent garnet and clinopyroxene in both Group I and II eclogite xenoliths are essentially in isotopic equilibrium at the time of pipe emplacement. Mineral as well as calculated whole-rock Nd/144 Nd compositions of most of the Group I eclogites are too close to bulk-Earth and depleted-mantle estimates in order to obtain useful model age information. Depleted-mantle model ages derived from the much lower 143Nd/144Nd compositions of the Group II eclogite xenoliths range from 661 to 1248 My, with an average clinopyroxene model age of 908 My and an average whole-rock model age of 1016 My. On the basis of an observed covariation of O and Sr isotopic compositions the entire Orapa Group I eclogite xenolith suite can be modelled as mixtures of oceanic basalt with or without a few percent of ocean floor sediment. The Group II xenoliths might have crystallised from a melt which derives from a protolith with time-averaged LREE depletion. Their radiogenic Sr isotope character could be due to interaction of the melt with metasomatised lithosphere, or might be a superimposed metasomatic signature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Diamond
  • Ecologite
  • Enolith
  • Graphite
  • Isotope
  • Kimberlite
  • Orapa
  • Trace element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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