Diamond mega-placers: southern Africa and the Kaapvaal craton in a global context
Published:January 01, 2005
B. J. Bluck, J. D. Ward, M. C. J. De Wit, 2005. "Diamond mega-placers: southern Africa and the Kaapvaal craton in a global context", Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution, I. McDonald, A. J. Boyce, I. B. Butler, R. J. Herrington, D. A. Polya
Download citation file:
Diamond mega-placers, defined as ≥ 50 million carats at ≥ 95% gem quality, are known only from along the coast of southwestern Africa, fringing the Kaapvaal craton, where two are recognized. One is associated with the Orange-Vaal dispersal, the other, to the south, has an uncertain origin. Placers are residual when left on the craton, transient when being eroded into the exit drainage, and terminal. Terminal placers, the final depositories of diamonds, have the greatest probability of being a mega-placer. There are four main groups of controls leading to the development of a mega-placer: the craton, the drainage, the nature of the environment at the terminus and the timing.
Cratons, being buoyant, have a tendency to leak diamonds into surrounding basins; however, being incompressible they may have orogens converge onto them resulting in some lost sediment being returned as foreland basin fills. The craton size, its diamond-fertility and the retention of successive kimberlite intrusions that remain available to the final drainage, are significant to mega-placer development.
Maximum potential recovery is achieved when the drainage delivering diamonds to the mega-placer is efficient, not preceded by older major drainages and focuses the supply to a limited area of the terminal placer. There should be sufficient energy in the terminal placer regime to ensure that sediment accompanying the diamonds is removed to areas away from the placer site. All conditions should be near contemporaneous and most were satisfied in the Orange-Vaal Rivers-Kaapvaal system and mega-placers were consequently generated.
Figures & Tables
Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution
Mineral deposits are not only primary sources of wealth generation, but also act as windows through which to view the evolution and interrelationships of the Earth system.
Deposits formed throughout the last 3.8 billion years of the Earth’s history preserve key evidence with which to test fundamental questions about the evolution of the Earth. These include: the nature of early magmatic and tectonic processes, supercontinent reconstructions, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere with time, and the emergence and development of life. The interlinking processes that form mineral deposits have always sat at the heart of the Earth system and the potential for using deposits as tools to understand that evolving system over geological time is increasingly recognized. This volume contains research aimed both at understanding the origins of mineral deposits and at using mineral deposits as tools to explore different long-term Earth processes.