Insights of dyke emplacement mechanics from detailed 3D dyke thickness datasets

J. L. Kavanagh, R. Stephen J Sparks

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

64 Citations (Scopus)


Dyke thickness datasets offer new insights into the detailed 3D geometry of dyke swarms and an exceptional opportunity to evaluate theoretical emplacement models. The Swartruggens kimberlite dyke swarm extends over 7 km along strike and intrudes a dolerite, quartzite, shale and andesitic lava succession. The Star kimberlite dykes cut shales and sandstones, intersect a large dolerite sill and extend 15 km along strike. Both dyke swarms comprise anastomosing en echelon segments, each several hundred metres long. In total 1532 Swartruggens dyke thickness measurements were taken, to 750 m below the surface over a 250 m depth range, and 3354 Star dyke thickness measurements were taken over a 520 m depth range. The Swartruggens dyke thicknesses are 0.05-1.95 m (mean 0.64 m), whereas the Star kimberlites range from <0.01 to 1.6 m thick (mean 0.40 m). Two-dimensional models of elastic cracks in a homogeneous, isotropic material subject to constant magmatic over-pressure poorly describe the dyke thickness variation, which is complex and varies along both breadth and length. The Swartruggens dyke segments thicken toward their terminations along strike, which represent regions where stresses were focused. Towards the surface, rock deformation is increasingly difficult to recover as inelastic processes such as host-rock brecciation, stoping, and magma solidification become important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-978
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


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