Possible Origins of α-Damage in Diamonds from Kimberlite and Alluvial Sources

E. R. Vance1, J. W. Harris2 and H. J. Milledge
Chemistry Department, University College, Gower Street, London W.C.I
1Present address: Department of Solid State Physics, Research School of Physical Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, A.C.T., Australia.
2Present address: De Beers Industrial Diamond Division Ltd., P.O. Box 916, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Summary: Heating experiments provide strong evidence that the transparent green coats on some diamonds from each of many localities are caused by α-particle irradiation after kimberlite injection and subsequent cooling. The natural diamonds with more or less homogeneous transparent green coats, studied in this work, appear to have received doses of at least 5 × 1013−1 × 1014 α.cm−2. For Pre-Cambrian kimberlites, such doses could occur if certain regions of the diatremes contained ⩾20 ppm by weight of equivalent uranium, after kimberlite injection and solidification.

Such considerations lead to the prediction that the radioelement concentrations in the Finsch kimberlite diatreme and the Bellsbank fissure kimberlite are considerably greater than those in the Premier mine, though radioelement segregation could produce the required local concentrations. Some exploratory autoradiographic measurements made on two kimberlite rock samples from Premier and De Beers Mines indicated that the radioelements were apparently distributed on a submicron scale, which would be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for uniform α-irradiation of diamonds.

Diamonds from various alluvial sources showing green and brown spots arising from much heavier and more localized radiation damage are also discussed.

Mineralogical Magazine; September 1973 v. 39; no. 303; p. 349-360; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1973.039.303.12
© 1973, The Mineralogical Society
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