The Mg- and Si-rich nature of the sub-cratonic lithospheric mantle (SCLM) beneath the Kaapvaal Craton indicates extensive melt depletion, followed by a Si-enrichment process. Six highly silica enriched peridotites from Kimberley containing high amounts of orthopyroxene (Opx) or garnet (Grt) that are locally concentrated in clots, were investigated to constrain the timing and nature of the Si-enrichment process. A clinopyroxene-bearing lherzolite containing an Opx-clot was studied to quantify the effects of recent metasomatism on the Si-enriched samples. Minerals from the lherzolite, together with Opx from harzburgites and Opx- and Grt-clots have Hf–Nd isotope ratios at the time of kimberlite eruption, 90 Ma, comparable to group I kimberlites and are close to trace element equilibrium with kimberlitic melts. This implies the xenoliths underwent major interaction with kimberlitic melts close to the time of kimberlite eruption.
Harzburgites and mineral clots record equilibration pressures and temperatures of, respectively, between 3.5–4.3 GPa and 930–1060 °C. The garnets in Opx-clots have low Lu/Hf and εHf(t) −15, whereas garnets from Grt-clots have high Lu/Hf and εHf(t) +10. In contrast, Grt from both Grt- and Opx-clots have low Sm/Nd and εNd −10. The whole rock platinum group element (PGE) concentrations are an order of magnitude higher in the Grt-clot than the Opx-clot. Measured 187Os/188Os range from 0.1085 to 0.1222. The Grt-clot bearing sample yields Nd–Hf–Os isotope model ages that suggest formation in the Neoproterozoic (∼650 Ma). In contrast, an Opx-clot yields TRD ages of 2.8 Ga, which is interpreted as the time of formation of the host harzburgite. The Opx-clots and host harzburgites have comparable Lu–Hf isotope systematics that imply Opx growth at ∼1.3 Ga and hence their formation is not related to the Grt-clots.
Garnets from Opx- and Grt-clots have elevated high-field strength element (HFSE) concentrations, and lack HFSE depletion relative to other trace elements with comparable degrees of incompatibility in the mantle (La/Nb 〈 0.5). In addition, calculated melts in equilibrium with Grt have strongly fractionated REE (Nd/Yb 〉 300) and HREE depletion (YbN 〈 0.1) suggesting equilibration with a hydrous melt that is more HREE depleted than a kimberlitic melt. Previous models that related Si-enrichment to subduction are inconsistent with the lack of HFSE depletion (La/Nb 〈 0.5). Therefore the favoured model for Opx- and Grt-clot formation is infiltration of a hydrous melt in a within plate geodynamical environment associated with volcanism in the Mid-proterozoic and Neoproterozoic, respectively. This implies that Si-enrichment of the Kaapvaal SCLM may be a consequence of numerous localised magmatic events rather than a single craton-wide process.