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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Geoff Nowell

Poitras, Stéphane P., Pearson, D. Graham, Hardman, Matthew F., Stachel, Thomas, Nowell, Geoff M. & Cairns, Scott (2018). Evidence for a 200 km thick diamond-bearing root beneath the Central Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, Canada? Diamond indicator mineral geochemistry from the Horn Plateau and Trout Lake regions. Mineralogy and Petrology 112(S2): 719-736.

Author(s) from Durham


The Central Mackenzie Valley (CMV) area of Northwest Territories is underlain by Precambrian basement belonging to the North American Craton. The potential of this area to host kimberlitic diamond deposits is relatively high judging from the seismologically-defined lithospheric thickness, age of basement rocks (2.2–1.7 Ga) and presence of kimberlite indicator minerals (KIMs) in Quaternary sediments. This study presents data for a large collection of KIMs recovered from stream sediments and till samples from two study areas in the CMV, the Horn Plateau and Trout Lake. In the processed samples, peridotitic garnets dominate the KIM grain count for both regions (> 25% each) while eclogitic garnet is almost absent in both regions (< 1% each). KIM chemistry for the Horn Plateau indicates significant diamond potential, with a strong similarity to KIM systematics from the Central and Western Slave Craton. The most significant issue to resolve in assessing the local diamond potential is the degree to which KIM chemistry reflects local and/or distal kimberlite bodies. Radiogenic isotope analysis of detrital kimberlite-related CMV ilmenite and rutile grains requires at least two broad age groups for eroded source kimberlites. Statistical analysis of the data suggests that it is probable that some of these KIMs were derived from primary and/or secondary sources within the CMV area, while others may have been transported to the area from the east-northeast by Pleistocene glacial and/or glaciofluvial systems. At this stage, KIM chemistry does not allow the exact location of the kimberlitic source(s) to be constrained.