Definitions for kimberlite
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a rare type of peridotite that sometimes contains diamonds; found in South Africa and Siberia
A variety of peridotite containing a high proportion of carbon dioxide; often contains diamonds.
Origin: Based on the name of the South African town of Kimberley where the mineral was first found.
Kimberlite is an inequigranular igneous rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an 83.5-carat diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole. Kimberlite occurs in the Earth's crust in vertical structures known as kimberlite pipes as well as igneous dykes and sills. Kimberlite pipes are the most important source of mined diamonds today. The consensus on kimberlites is that they are formed deep within the mantle. Formation occurs at depths between 150 and 450 kilometres, potentially from anomalously enriched exotic mantle compositions, and are erupted rapidly and violently, often with considerable carbon dioxide and other volatile components. It is this depth of melting and generation which makes kimberlites prone to hosting diamond xenocrysts. Kimberlite has attracted more attention than its relative volume might suggest that it deserves. This is largely because it serves as a carrier of diamonds and garnet peridotite mantle xenoliths to the Earth's surface. Its probable derivation from depths greater than any other igneous rock type, and the extreme magma composition that it reflects in terms of low silica content and high levels of incompatible trace element enrichment, make an understanding of kimberlite petrogenesis important. In this regard, the study of kimberlite has the potential to provide information about the composition of the deep mantle and about melting processes occurring at or near the interface between the cratonic continental lithosphere and the underlying convecting asthenospheric mantle.
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