Geology of the Snap Lake kimberlite intrusion, NW Territories, Canada: Field observations and their interpretation

Tom M Gernon, Matthew Field, R S J Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The Cambrian (523 Ma) Snap Lake hypabyssal kimberlite intrusion, Northwest Territories, Canada, is a complex segmented diamond-bearing ore-body. Detailed geological investigations suggest that the kimberlite is a multi-phase intrusion with at least four magmatic lithofacies. In particular, olivine-rich (ORK) and olivine-poor (OPK) varieties of hypabyssal kimberlite have been identified. Key observations are that the olivine-rich lithofacies has a strong tendency to be located where the intrusion is thickest and that there is a good correlation between intrusion thickness, olivine crystal size and crystal content. Heterogeneities in the lithofacies are attributed to variations in intrusion thickness and structural complexities. The geometry and distribution of lithofacies points to magmatic co-intrusion, and flow segregation driven by fundamental rheological differences between the two phases. We envisage that the low-viscosity OPK magma acted as a lubricant for the highly viscous ORK magma. The presence of such low-viscosity, crystal-poor magmas may explain how crystal-laden kimberlite magmas (>60 vol.%) are able to reach the surface during kimberlite eruptions. We also document the absence of crystal settling and the development of an unusual subvertical fabric of elongate olivine crystals, which are explained by rapid degassing-induced quench crystallization of the magmas during and after intrusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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