A new study has revealed that the larger diamonds are formed differently from the smaller one, and can be found deep beneath the Earth’s surface in liquid metal pockets. Researchers reached this conclusion after analyzing the cut fragments of larger commercial diamonds.
It seems that despite the fact that diamonds don’t have any intrinsic value, scientists can use them to learn more about our planet and its layers. A postdoctoral researcher from the Gemological institute of America, California named Evan Smith decided to analyze what remained after a large diamond was cut, as the actual diamond is too expensive to study it.
Smith together with a number of his colleagues decided to study the structure of those remaining fragments of large diamonds using a variety of instruments such as lasers, microscopes, and electron beams to determine where and how they formed.
Previous research revealed that diamonds are formed deep beneath the Earth’s crust and are brought up to the surface through the eruption of volcanoes. However, by analyzing the inclusions, the impurities found in diamonds, Smith, and his team discovered that large diamonds are formed at a much deeper layer of the Earth, at around 224 to 466 miles, compared to smaller diamonds which form at depths between 93 to 124 miles. The inclusions contained in large diamonds were minerals that form at extreme depths, where even metals exist only as liquids.
Until now, scientists believed that since the Earth’s formation, 4.5 billion years ago, its layers have rotated and interchanged which has led to the underground material to have a high distribution of oxygen. However, the new study reveals that the diamonds could not have formed at such depths if the oxygenation was so prevalent.
The study’s findings, which was published in the journal Science, provide the necessary evidence to confirm what scientists long-suspected and theoretically predicted that certain chemical reactions in the mantle of the planet led to the creation of pockets of liquid iron-nickel alloy. This is where the rare diamonds form as revealed by the presence of the specific minerals found in their inclusions.
What do you think about this discovery? Do you attribute any worth to diamonds?
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