Oxygen isotope systematics of gem corundum deposits in Madagascar: relevance for their geological origin

Giuliani, G. et al. (2007) Oxygen isotope systematics of gem corundum deposits in Madagascar: relevance for their geological origin. Mineralium Deposita, 42(3), pp. 251-270. (doi: 10.1007/s00126-006-0105-3)

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The oxygen isotopic composition of gem corundum was measured from 22 deposits and occurrences in Madagascar to provide a gemstone geological identification and characterization. Primary corundum deposits in Madagascar are hosted in magmatic (syenite and alkali basalt) and metamorphic rocks (gneiss, cordieritite, mafic and ultramafic rocks, marble, and calc-silicate rocks). In both domains the circulation of fluids, especially along shear zones for metamorphic deposits, provoked in situ transformation of the corundum host rocks with the formation of metasomatites such as phlogopite, sakenite, and corundumite. Secondary deposits (placers) are the most important economically and are contained in detrital basins and karsts. The oxygen isotopic ratios (18O/16O) of ruby and sapphire from primary deposits are a good indicator of their geological origin and reveal a wide range of δ18O (Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water) between 1.3 and 15.6‰. Metamorphic rubies are defined by two groups of δ18O values in the range of 1.7 to 2.9‰ (cordieritite) and 3.8 to 6.1‰ (amphibolite). “Magmatic” rubies from pyroxenitic xenoliths contained in the alkali basalt of Soamiakatra have δ18O values ranging between 1.3 and 4.7‰. Sapphires are classified into two main groups with δ18O in the range of 4.7 to 9.0‰ (pyroxenite and feldspathic gneiss) and 10.7 to 15.6‰ (skarn in marble from Andranondambo). The δ18O values for gem corundum from secondary deposits have a wide spread between −0.3 and 16.5‰. The ruby and sapphire found in placers linked to alkali basalt environments in the northern and central regions of Madagascar have consistent δ18O values between 3.5 and 6.9‰. Ruby from the placers of Vatomandry and Andilamena has δ18O values of 5.9‰, and between 0.5 and 4.0‰, respectively. The placers of the Ilakaka area are characterized by a huge variety of colored sapphires and rubies, with δ18O values between −0.3 and 16.5‰, and their origin is debated. A comparison with oxygen isotope data obtained on gem corundum from Eastern Africa, India, and Sri Lanka is presented. Giant placer deposits from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Tanzania have a large variety of colored sapphires and rubies with a large variation in δ18O due to mingling of corundum of different origin: mafic and ultramafic rocks for ruby, desilicated pegmatites for blue sapphire, syenite for yellow, green, and blue sapphire, and skarn in marbles for blue sapphire.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fallick, Professor Anthony
Authors: Giuliani, G., Fallick, A.E., Rakotondrazafy, M., Ohnenstetter, D., Andriamamonjy, A., Ralantoarison, T., Rakotosamizanany, S., Razanatseheno, M., Offant, Y., Garnier, V., Dunaigre, C., Schwarz, D., Mercier, A., Ratrimo, V., and Ralison, B.
Subjects:Q Science > QE Geology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Mineralium Deposita
ISSN (Online):1432-1866
Published Online:08 December 2006

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