Reconstruction of a multi-vent kimberlite eruption from deposit and host rock characteristics: Jericho kimberlite, Nunavut, Canada

Patrick Hayman, Raymond Cas

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    The Jericho kimberlite (173.1 +/- 1.3 Ma) is a small (similar to 130 x 70 m), multi-vent system that preserves products from deep (> 1 km?) portions of kimberlite vents. Pit mapping, drill core examination, petrographic study, image analysis of olivine crystals (grain size distributions and shape studies), and compositional and mineralogical studies, are used to reconstruct processes from near-surface magma ascent to kimberlite emplacement and alteration. The Jericho kimberlite formed by multiple eruptions through an Archean granodiorite batholith that was overlain by mid-Devonian limestones similar to 1 km in thickness. Kimberlite magma ascended through granodiorite basement by dyke propagation but ascended through limestone, at least in part, by locally brecciating the host rocks. After the first explosive breakthrough to surface, vent deepening and widening occurred by the erosive forces of the waxing phase of the eruption, by gravitationally induced failures as portions of the vent margins slid into the vent and, in the deeper portions of the vent (> 1 km), by scaling, as thin slabs burst from the walls into the vent. At currently exposed levels, coherent kimberlite (CK) dykes (<40 cm thick) are found to the north and south of the vent complex and represent the earliest preserved in-situ products of Jericho magmatism. Timing of Cl( emplacement on the eastern side of the vent complex is unclear; some thick CK (15-20 m) may have been emplaced after the central vent was formed. Explosive eruptive products are preserved in four partially overlapping vents that are roughly aligned along strike with the coherent kimberlite dyke. The volcaniclastic kimberlite (VK) facies are massive and poorly sorted, with matrix- to clast-supported textures. The VK facies fragmented by dry, volatile-driven processes and were emplaced by eruption column collapse back into the volcanic vents. The first explosive products, poorly preserved because of partial destruction by later eruptions, are found in the central-east vent and were formed by eruption column collapse after the vent was largely cleared of country rock debris. The next active vent was either the north or south vent. Collapse of the eruption column, linked to a vent widening episode, resulted in coeval avalanching of pipe margin walls into the north vent, forming interstratified lenses of country rock-rich boulder breccias in finer-grained volcaniclastic kimberlite. South vent kimberlite has similar characteristics to kimberlite of the north vent and likely formed by similar processes. The final eruptive phase formed olivine-rich and moderately sorted deposits of the central vent. Better sorting is attributed to recycling of kimberlite debris by multiple eruptions through the unconsolidated volcaniclastic pile and associated collapse events. Post-emplacement alteration varies in intensity, but in all cases, has overprinted the primary groundmass and matrix, in CK and VK, respectively. Erosion has since removed all limestone cover.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)201 - 222
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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