Solid molecular nitrogen (δ-N2) inclusions in Juina diamonds: Exsolution at the base of the transition zone

Oded Navon*, Richard Wirth, Christian Schmidt, Brooke Matat Jablon, Anja Schreiber, Simon Emmanuel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Diamonds originating from the transition zone or lower mantle were previously identified based on the chemistry of their silicate or oxide mineral inclusions. Here we present data for such a super-deep origin based on the internal pressure of nitrogen in sub-micrometer inclusions in diamonds from Juina, Brazil. Infrared spectroscopy of four diamonds, rich in such inclusions revealed high concentrations of fully aggregated nitrogen (average of 900 ppm, all in B centers) and almost no platelets. Raman spectroscopy indicated the presence of solid, cubic δ-N2 at 10.9±0.2 GPa (corresponding to a density of 1900 kg/m3). Transmission electron microscopy of two diamonds found two generations of octahedral inclusions: microinclusions (average size: 150 nm, average concentration: 100 ppm) and nanoinclusions (20–30 nm, 350 ppm). EELS detected nitrogen and a diffraction pattern of one nanoinclusion yielded a tetragonal phase, which resembles γ-N2 with a density of 1400 kg/m3 (internal pressure = 2.7 GPa). We also observed up-warping of small areas (∼150 nm in size) on the polished surface of one diamond. The ∼2 nm rise can be explained by a shallow subsurface microinclusion, pressurized internally to more than 10 GPa. Using available equations of state for nitrogen and diamond, we calculated the pressures and temperatures of mechanical equilibrium of the inclusions and their diamond host at the mantle geotherm. The inclusions originated at the deepest part of the transition zone at pressures of ∼22 GPa (630 km) and temperatures of ∼1640 °C. We suggest that both generations are the result of exsolution of nitrogen from B centers and that growth took a few million years in a subducting mantle current. The microinclusions nucleated first, followed by the nanoinclusions. Shortly after the exsolution events, the diamonds were trapped in a plume or an ascending melt and were transported to the base of the lithosphere and later to the surface.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • exsolution
  • nitrogen in diamonds
  • super-deep diamonds
  • transition zone
  • voidites
  • δ-N


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