Area selection for diamonds using magnetotellurics: Examples from southern Africa Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Southern Africa, particularly the Kaapvaal Craton, is one of the world’s best natural laboratories for studying the lithospheric mantle given the wealth of xenolith and seismic data that exist for it. The Southern African Magnetotelluric Experiment (SAMTEX) was launched to complement these databases and provide further constraints on physical parameters and conditions by obtaining information about electrical conductivity variations laterally and with depth. Initially it was planned to acquire magnetotelluric data on profiles spatially coincident with the Kaapvaal Seismic Experiment, however with the addition of seven more partners to the original four through the course of the experiment, SAMTEX was enlarged from two to four phases of acquisition, and extended to cover much of Botswana and Namibia. The complete SAMTEX dataset now comprises MT data from over 675 distinct locations in an area of over one million square kilometres, making SAMTEX the largest regional-scale MT experiment conducted to date. Preliminary images of electrical resistivity and electrical resistivity anisotropy at 100 km and 200 km, constructed through approximate one-dimensional methods, map resistive regions spatially correlated with the Kaapvaal, Zimbabwe and Angola Cratons, and more conductive regions spatially associated with the neighbouring mobile belts and the Rehoboth Terrain. Known diamondiferous kimberlites occur primarily on the boundaries between the resistive or isotropic regions and conductive or anisotropic regions. Comparisons between the resistivity image maps and seismic velocities from models constructed through surface wave and body wave tomography show spatial correlations between high velocity regions that are resistive, and low velocity regions that are conductive. In particular, the electrical resistivity of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle of the Kaapvaal Craton is determined by its bulk parameters, so is controlled by a bulk matrix property, namely temperature, and to a lesser degree by iron content and composition, and is not controlled by contributions from interconnected conducting minor phases, such as graphite, sulphides, iron oxides, hydrous minerals, etc. This makes quantitative correlations between velocity and resistivity valid, and a robust regression between the two gives an approximate relationship of Vs [m/s] = 0.045*log(resistivity [ohm.m]).

publication date

  • November 2009

published in