Diamond Geology and Exploration

Bulk Organic Geochemistry and U-Pb Zircon Geochronology of the Wombat Sedimentary Fill

Soapbox Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 13:35 to 13:41 Theatre 3


S. Buryak (Presenting)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

A.V. Reyes
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

P.A. Siver
Department of Botany, Connecticut College

L. Li
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

S.A. DuFrane
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

The Wombat locality (64.73°N, 110.59°W) is a diamondiferous kimberlite in the Lac de Gras kimberlite field of Northwest Territories. Two drill cores, CH 93-29 and DDH 0-005, intersect the Wombat crater facies and include 195 m of well preserved, undisturbed lake sediment fill. Bulk sediment elemental analysis, C isotope composition, and Rock-Eval pyrolysis, together with inferences from microfossils, are used to characterize conditions of sedimentation and paleoenvironment in the maar lake. Bulk sediment C/N, hydrogen index (HI), and d13C indicate material derived from C3 land plants dominates the sedimentary organic matter, with a minor algal contribution. The d13C values range from -25.3 ‰ to -30.2 ‰ (average -26.6 ‰) and are typical for C3 land plants, with fluctuations in d13C likely related to shifts in the proportions of land-derived material and algal organic matter. An overall trend of higher d13C towards the top of the core suggests increasing autochthonous organic matter production. 18 samples analyzed by Rock-Eval pyrolysis all plot in the Type III kerogen field for HI vs. Tmax, with average Tmax values ~425 °C indicative of the low thermal maturity of organic matter. Total organic carbon (TOC) averages 3.6 wt% and average total carbonate content is 14.1 wt%, indicating bottom water anoxia and substantial carbonate input from weathering of overlying carbonate cover rocks, respectively. Together with well-preserved freshwater microfossils (e.g. diatoms, chrysophytes, synurophytes), the results indicate deposition in a non-marine setting. The age of the Wombat maar lake sediments is determined using MC-LA-ICP-MS U-Pb zircon geochronology from two distal rhyolitic tephra beds found in the core DDH 0-005, yielding a date of 82.97±0.60 Ma (MSWD = 1.7, n=18 of 33 grains analyzed). This minimum age suggests that Wombat kimberlite pipe emplacement occurred during the Late Cretaceous, with sedimentation in the maar beginning shortly thereafter. Though our geochronology is preliminary at this point, our findings from the Wombat pipe post-eruptive lake sediment fill provide direct evidence for a non-marine environment in the Lac De Gras area during the Late Cretaceous. Furthermore, microfossils in the Wombat pipe sediment fill likely include the oldest-known occurrence of freshwater diatoms.