Abstract

The Kasai alluvial field in southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is part of central Africa’s largest diamond placer that has produced more than 200 million carats, mainly derived from Quaternary deposits. A small part of these deposits, along and within the Longatshimo River, is the subject of this study providing a glimpse into the alluvial history of the Kasai diamond placer. This work documents their sedimentological and diamond mineralization attributes, as well as their emplacement processes, which can inform future exploration models. The key controls of this placer formation, notably Quaternary climatic variations, fluvial landscape evolution and bedrock conditions are also evaluated. A consequence of the interplay among these processes is that diamond supply (from Cretaceous alluvial sources), recycling and concentration were most pronounced and consistent, in the Late Quaternary. Alluvial diamond mineralization in this central African region thus evolved differently to those in southern Africa. Based on exploration results in the Longatshimo Valley, diamond concentration improves but diamond size diminishes with decreasing deposit age, and thus the modern river sediments contain the highest abundance but smallest diamonds. This is opposite to the grade and diamond size trend that characterises southern African fluvial diamond placers. The Longatshimo River study offers insight into the Kasai alluvial field, and its placer model is expected to be applicable to the exploration of other central African diamond placers.

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