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Sublithospheric diamond ages and the supercontinent cycle.

Timmerman, Suzette; Stachel, Thomas; Koornneef, Janne M; Smit, Karen V; Harlou, Rikke; Nowell, Geoff M; Thomson, Andrew R; Kohn, Simon C; Davies, Joshua H F L; Davies, Gareth R; Krebs, Mandy Y; Zhang, Qiwei; Milne, Sarah E M; Harris, Jeffrey W; Kaminsky, Felix; Zedgenizov, Dmitry; Bulanova, Galina; Smith, Chris B; Cabral Neto, Izaac; Silveira, Francisco V; Burnham, Antony D; Nestola, Fabrizio; Shirey, Steven B; Walter, Michael J; Steele, Andrew; Pearson, D Graham

Sublithospheric diamond ages and the supercontinent cycle. Thumbnail


Suzette Timmerman

Thomas Stachel

Janne M Koornneef

Karen V Smit

Rikke Harlou

Andrew R Thomson

Simon C Kohn

Joshua H F L Davies

Gareth R Davies

Mandy Y Krebs

Qiwei Zhang

Sarah E M Milne

Jeffrey W Harris

Felix Kaminsky

Dmitry Zedgenizov

Galina Bulanova

Chris B Smith

Izaac Cabral Neto

Francisco V Silveira

Antony D Burnham

Fabrizio Nestola

Steven B Shirey

Michael J Walter

Andrew Steele

D Graham Pearson


Subduction related to the ancient supercontinent cycle is poorly constrained by mantle samples. Sublithospheric diamond crystallization records the release of melts from subducting oceanic lithosphere at 300-700 km depths and is especially suited to tracking the timing and effects of deep mantle processes on supercontinents. Here we show that four isotope systems (Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, U-Pb and Re-Os) applied to Fe-sulfide and CaSiO inclusions within 13 sublithospheric diamonds from Juína (Brazil) and Kankan (Guinea) give broadly overlapping crystallization ages from around 450 to 650 million years ago. The intracratonic location of the diamond deposits on Gondwana and the ages, initial isotopic ratios, and trace element content of the inclusions indicate formation from a peri-Gondwanan subduction system. Preservation of these Neoproterozoic-Palaeozoic sublithospheric diamonds beneath Gondwana until its Cretaceous breakup, coupled with majorite geobarometry , suggests that they accreted to and were retained in the lithospheric keel for more than 300 Myr during supercontinent migration. We propose that this process of lithosphere growth-with diamonds attached to the supercontinent keel by the diapiric uprise of depleted buoyant material and pieces of slab crust-could have enhanced supercontinent stability. [Abstract copyright: © 2023. The Author(s).]


Timmerman, S., Stachel, T., Koornneef, J. M., Smit, K. V., Harlou, R., Nowell, G. M., …Pearson, D. G. (2023). Sublithospheric diamond ages and the supercontinent cycle. Nature, 623, 752-756.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 20, 2023
Online Publication Date Oct 18, 2023
Publication Date Nov 23, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 12, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 12, 2023
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 0028-0836
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 623
Pages 752-756
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Published Journal Article (12.1 Mb)


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