Diamond is rare – that’s what we have believed for decades. However, researchers at John Hopkins University have found that it is far more abundant that you thought. That doesn’t mean you are soon going to get steep discounts at local jewelry stores. It is formed deep inside the Earth’s mantle, making it almost impossible to explore these precious stones physically.
Simple chemical reactions could also form diamonds
Findings of the study were published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Using a theoretical model of deep fluids, geochemist Dimitri Sverjensky said the process of diamond formation in deep Earth could be more common than previously believed. Sverjensky and his colleague Fang Huang found that even simple natural chemical reactions could form diamonds. Note that their theoretical model is yet to be tried using actual minerals.
Until now, researchers believed that diamonds were formed in either of two complex processes: chemical reduction of carbon dioxide within moving fluids or oxidation of methane. The new research suggests that water in the deep Earth could produce diamonds as its acidity rises due to water-rock interactions. However, it requires intense pressure and temperatures between 1,650 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Diamond is pushed towards the Earth surface by magma eruption
Naturally, such scenarios occur only deep in the Earth’s mantle. These diamonds are so small that they can be measured in microns, not carats. So, the gem-quality diamonds will not immediately become easier to find. The precious stone is mined near the surface of Earth. They are made possible only by magma eruption that push diamonds from the deep Earth towards the surface.
Diamonds are formed between 142 and 194 kilometers below the Earth surface at extreme temperatures and pressure. Then magma eruption brings them towards the surface. Sverjensky pointed out that the deepest drilling exploration was about 8-9 miles below the Earth surface.
Sverjensky said his study would help researchers better understand the fluid dynamics of deep Earth, the least understood part of carbon cycle.