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A quadrillion ton of diamonds found buried in the Earth's crust

19 July 2018

Time for diamond rush?

The researchers estimate that the bottom sections of these cratons, or roots, may be composed of 1-2% diamond.

The diamonds are in underground rock formations called cratons, which are shaped like inverted mountains, lie at the center of the planet's tectonic plates, and can stretch up to 200 miles into the Earth, according to MIT.

Diamonds are one of society's most precious items, and scientists have now found a hidden treasure trove that holds more than a quadrillion tons of the jewels.

Turns out Diamonds are less rare than you thought.

Ulrich Faul and his co-workers reached to the before-mentioned results after exploring a baffling seismic anomaly.

Sound waves travel at different speeds depending on the composition, temperature, and density of the rocks and minerals they travel through, giving scientists a method to estimate what types of rocks are found below the Earth's surface by comparing the velocities of these sound waves, according to MIT News.

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The scientists became aware of this enormous diamond in the centre of the Earth due to a natural phenomenon such as tsunamis and earthquakes.

'Then we have to say, "There is a problem".

The researchers set out to determine the composition of the cratonic roots to understand what may be causing the spikes. The sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as the other minerals.

"Diamond in many ways is special". At about 120 to 150 km below the surface, it is out of reach of even the best drills available right now. In terms of sheer mass, that works out to around a quadrillion, or thousand trillion, tons of diamond. The only type of rock that produced the same velocities as what the seismologists measured, contained 1 to 2 percent diamond, along with peridotite and minor amounts of eclogite.

'Cratons are a tiny bit less dense than their surroundings, so they don't get subducted back into the Earth but stay floating on the surface.

Nevertheless, researchers from the MIT believe their presence among some of the oldest known rock can reveal much about our planet's heart. Whether you're willing to give up a quarter of your year's earnings on a diamond ring for your future spouse is ultimately up to you, though it seems you might not need to dig so deep after it was discovered that diamonds aren't quite as rare as we initially thought.

"It's circumstantial evidence, but we've pieced it all together", Faul said. The eruptions carve out geologic pipes made from kimberlite. Diamond, along with magma from deep in the Earth, can spew out through kimberlite pipes, onto the surface of the Earth. "We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one that's left as a reasonable explanation" said Dr. Uhlrich Faul. The researchers saw that in some parts of the crust named cratons, the sound waves went faster than expected.

A quadrillion ton of diamonds found buried in the Earth's crust