Al-rich diopside in alluvial ruby and corundum-bearing xenoliths, Australian and SE Asian basalt fields
Alluvial rubies and sapphires are found in palaeodrainage deposits along the Cudgegong-Macquarie River system, central eastern New South Wales, Australia. A pink to red suite contains Cr (up to 0.6 wt.% Cr2O3) as the main chromophore, exceeding Fe (up to 0.5 wt.%Fe2O3). Corrosive etching suggests a prior xenocrystic Mesozoic-Cenozoic basaltic transport, while Cr2O3/Ga2O3 to Fe2O3/TiO2 ratios indicate an original metamorphic source. Syngenetic mineral inclusions include Al-rich diopside, meionite and anatase. The Al-rich diopside (‘fassaite’) contains extremely high Al2O3 (20–21 wt.%). A blue-green suite contains Fe (up to 0.8 wt.% Fe2O3) as a dominant chromophore, while a rare nepheline-anorthoclase composite inclusion supports a magmatic phonolitic origin. The Cudgegong-Macquarie ruby formation is compared with a garnet granulite origin proposed for Thailand rubies and a xenolith of corundum-bearing garnet granulite from Ruby Hill, Bingara, Australia. Clinopyroxene-corundum thermometry suggests the Cudgegong-Macquarie rubies formed at T >1000–1300°C, a high equilibration T for proposed lithospheric granulites. These rubies form a distinctive suite compared to other rubies from Australian and SE Asian basalt fields, but have some similarities with eastern Thailand rubies.
KEYWORDS: corundum, ruby, sapphire, diopside, alluvial, xenocryst, granulite, basalt field, Australia, SE Asia