The Ranch Lake kimberlite, in the Contwoyto Lake area of the northwest Territories, consists of volcaniclastic crater facies kimberlite which contains thousands of kimberlite indicator mineral grains in a 10 kg sample. Cr-diopside and pyrope are the most abundant indicator minerals in the kimberlite, accompanied by much less abundant chromite and rare Mg-ilmenite. Indicator minerals in till samples collected around the Ranch Lake kimberlite define a spectacular ribbon-shaped glacial dispersal train trending west for 70 km. At its head, the train is 500 m wide and gradually widens 2 km at 20 km down-ice. The lateral edges of the train are sharply defined by the presence or absence of indicator minerals in till. Background (up-ice) concentrations of all indicator minerals are zero. Patterns for Cr-diopside and pyrope abundance are similar and concentrations increase down-ice, reaching their highest levels between 15 and 19 km down-ice. Of the two size fractions of heavy minerals examined, most indicator minerals occur in the finer, 0.25 to 0.5 mm, size fraction. The <0.063 mm fraction of the till matrix displays weak geochemical signatures of the kimberlite down-ice, most notably for Ba, Cr, Ce and Th. The results of this study of indicator mineral and geochemical methods around a known kimberlite will aid in the design of mineral exploration programs for kimberlite-hosted diamond deposits in glaciated terrain around the world.

You do not currently have access to this article.