Underground mining and deep drilling of the richly diamondiferous ~1.2 Ga Argyle lamproite in Western Australia has prompted a re-evaluation of the geology of the pipe. Argyle is considered to be a composite pipe that formed by the coalescence of several diatremes and has been offset and elongated by post-emplacement faulting. Recent geological studies have recognised at least five distinct volcaniclastic lamproite lithofacies with differing diamond grades. The new data suggest that the centre of the southern (main) diatreme is occupied by well-bedded, olivine lamproite lapilli tuff with very high diamond grades (>10 ct/t). Characteristic features include a clast-supported fabric and high modal abundance of densely packed lamproite lapilli and coarse-grained, likely mantle-derived olivine now replaced by serpentine and/or talc. The persistence of small-scale graded and cross-bedding in this lithofacies to depths of ~1.5 km below the original surface prior to erosion suggests phreatomagmatic volcanism forming the diatreme was syn-eruptively accompanied by subsidence of the tephra, maintaining a steep-walled diatreme in the water-saturated country rock sediments.
- Diamond pipe
- Olivine lamproite