Are Diamonds 'Common'? MIT Finds Quadrillion Tons Hidden Deep Below Earth's Surface
(Kitco News) - A staggering diamond discovery hidden deep below the Earth’s surface could potentially make the precious stones common. But, the only problem is technology that could get them out does not yet exist.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) team made the finding using seismic data or more simply put — sound waves.
What they discovered was 1,000,000,000,000,000 tons of diamonds buried more than 100 miles below the planet’s surface.
The rocks at these deep levels are called cratonic roots — “the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates,” according to MIT News.
These “roots” can take forms of mountains below the surface and may contain “1 to 2 percent diamond,” the new study stated.
“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it’s relatively common,” said Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. “We can’t get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before.”
The diamond trove was found through an anomaly in seismic data, which was used to determine the constitution of the Earth’s interior, according to the study.
The anomaly that started the project was the discovery that “sound waves tend to speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons,” MIT News reported.
What the researchers came to is that the presence of diamonds inside the ancient “roots” could explain the sound speed mystery since sound travels faster when diamonds are in the vicinity.
“Diamond in many ways is special,” Faul said. “One of its special properties is, the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.”
Other universities involved in the study were the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the University of California at Berkeley, Ecole Polytechnique, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Science and Technology of China, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Melbourne, and University College London.
The study was published in the Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems journal in June.