Cullinan Mine in South Africa, said Pearson, not only produces the most commercially viable diamonds, but also the most scientifically interesting ones, because they offer a unique look into the deep recesses of the planet that are mostly unreachable.
Geologists recently unearthed a diamond that contained a mineral that had never been seen before on the Earth's surface, as it becomes unstable above a depth of 650 km (400 miles).
Scientists theorize the diamonds used in the study, were born in the mantle under temperatures reaching more than 1,000-degrees Fahrenheit.
Pearson worked with an worldwide team of researchers including one of the best X-ray crystallographers in the world, Fabrizio Nestola from Padova, Italy, as well as scientists from the Deep Carbon Observatory in Washington, DC. "And the specific composition of the perovskite inclusion in this particular diamond very clearly indicates the recycling of oceanic crust into Earth's lower mantle".
"Nobody has ever managed to keep this mineral stable at the Earth's surface", study co-author Graham Pearson, a professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a statement. "In particular, ice-VII in diamonds points toward fluid-rich locations in the upper transition zone and around the 660-kilometer boundary". The diamond originated roughly 700 kilometres below Earth's surface, whereas most diamonds are formed at 150 to 200 kilometres depth. He added that studying such diamonds would provide an insight into the oceanic crust and exactly what happens when a denser oceanic plate plunges into the Earth's mantle when opposed to continental plates.
Rough diamond in kimberlite. Credit
Groundbreaking research by UNLV geoscientist Oliver Tschauner and colleagues found diamonds pushed up from the Earth's interior had traces of unique crystallized water called Ice-VII.
"[The kimberlites] are blasted toward the Earth's surface, preserving these unique pieces of Earth's mantle", Pearson said. In the 4.5 billion years that have passed since Earth first formed, the planet's layers - crust, mantle and core - have all rotated and interchanged.
The pressures ice-VII requires to form can be found on our planet, but they exist only deep in the mantle where the temperature is too warm for this form of ice to be stable.
Th scientific article also states that it is important to confirm the presence of calcium silicate perovskites deep in Earth because they are the dominant hosts for calcium and the major sink for heat-producing elements (potassium, uranium and thorium) in the transition zone and lower mantle. Its lead author was Fabrizio Nestola from the University of Padova, Italy.
The finding has been published in the journal Nature.
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