Mantle plumes are hot buoyant upwellings that rise from Earth's core–mantle-boundary to its surface where they can produce large igneous provinces (LIPs) and volcanic tracks, such as the Siberian Traps and the Hawaiian Emperor chain, respectively. We show that flattened mantle plume heads, which can have radii of >1200 km in the uppermost mantle, can heat the overlying lithospheric mantle to temperatures above the diamond stability field. As a consequence, they can destroy diamonds within the roots of Archean cratons, the principal source of diamonds in kimberlites. We quantitatively demonstrate that there is a ‘sour spot’ for this effect that occurs when lithospheric thicknesses are 165–185 km and the plume has a temperature of >150 °C above background mantle. Our model explains why the kimberlites associated with the 370 Ma Yakutsk–Vilyui plume in the Siberian craton are diamondiferous whilst those associated with the younger 250 Ma Siberian Traps plume are barren. We also show that the time required to restore the pre-plume thermal structure of the lithosphere is ca. 75–120 Myr, and that destroyed diamonds may regrow once the plume's thermal effect dissipates. The 1100 Ma Kyle Lake and adjacent 180–150 Ma Attawapiskat kimberlites in the southern Superior craton exemplify this, where the older kimberlites are associated with a narrower diamond window (<30 km) in comparison with the ca. 85 km diamond window of the younger Attawapiskat field.

diamond window, kimberlite, large igneous province, lithosphere, mantle plume
Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Department of Earth Sciences

Ernst, R.E, Davies, D.R. (D. R.), Jowitt, S.M. (S. M.), & Campbell, I.H. (I. H.). (2018). When do mantle plumes destroy diamonds?. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 502, 244–252. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.08.058