Abstract

Recent findings of diamonds in ophiolitic peridotites and chromitites challenge our traditional notion of Earth mantle dynamics. Models attempting to explain these findings involve incorporation of diamonds into chromite near the mantle transition zone. However, the occurrence of metastable diamonds in this context has not been considered. Here, we report for the first time in situ microdiamonds in chromite from ophiolitic chromitite pods hosted in the Tehuitzingo serpentinite (southern Mexico). Here, diamonds occur as fracture-filling inclusions along with quartz, clinochlore, serpentine, and amorphous carbon, thus indicating a secondary origin during the shallow hydration of chromitite. Chromite chemical variations across the diamond-bearing healed fractures indicate formation during the retrograde evolution of chromitite at temperatures between 670 °C and 515 °C. During this stage, diamond precipitated metastably at low pressure from reduced C-O-H fluids that infiltrated from the host peridotite at the onset of serpentinization processes. Diamond was preserved as a result of fracture healing at the same temperature interval in which the chromite alteration began. These mechanisms of diamond formation challenge the idea that the occurrence of diamond in ophiolitic rocks constitutes an unequivocal indicator of ultrahigh-pressure conditions.

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