The Neoproterozoic (similar to 820 Ma) Aries micaceous kimberlite intrudes the central Kimberley Basin, northern Western Australia, and has yielded a suite of 27 serpentinised ultramafic xenoliths, including spinel-bearing and rare, metasomatised, phlogopite-biotite and rutile-bearing types, along with minor granite xenoliths. Proton-microprobe trace-element analysis of pyrope and chromian spinel grains derived from heavy mineral concentrates from the kimberlite has been used to define a similar to 35-40 mW/m(2) Proterozoic geotherm for the central Kimberley Craton. Lherzolitic chromian pyrope highly depleted in Zr and Y, and Cr-rich magnesiochromite xenocrysts (class 1), probably were derived from depleted garnet peridotite mantle at similar to 150 km depth. Sampling of shallower levels of the lithospheric mantle by kimberlite magmas in the north and north-extension lobes entrained high-Fe magnesiochromite xenocrysts (class 2), and aluminous spinel-bearing xenoliths, where both spinel compositions are anomalously Fe-rich for spinels from mantle xenoliths. This Fe-enrichment may have resulted from Fe-Mg exchange with olivine during slow cooling of the peridotite host rocks. Fine exsolution rods of aluminous spinel in diopside and zircon in rutile grains in spinel- and rutile-bearing serpentinised ultramafic xenoliths, respectively, suggest nearly isobaric cooling of host rocks in the lithospheric mantle, and indicate that at least some aluminous spinel in spinel-facies peridotites formed through exsolution from chromian diopside. Fe-Ti-rich metasomatism in the spinel-facies Kimberley mantle probably produced high-Ti phlogopite-biotite+rutile and Ti, V, Zn, Ni-enriched aluminous spinel ilmenite associations in several ultramafic xenoliths. U-Pb SHRIMP Pb-207/(206) Pb zircon ages for one granite (1851 +/- 10 Ma) and two serpentinised ultramafic xenoliths (1845 +/- 30 Ma; 1861 +/- 31 Ma) indicate that the granitic basement and lower crust beneath the central Kimberley Basin are at least Palaeoproterozoic in age. However, Hf-isotope analyses of the zircons in the ultramafic xenoliths suggest that the underlying lithospheric mantle is at least late Archean in age. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.