Rare and unseen the mineral was found inside of the diamond
Rare and unseen the mineral was found inside of the diamond
Diamond discovery under pressure
10 March, 2018, 22:07
While most of us might value diamonds for their beauty, geologists like the minerals for what they can tell us about the goings on deep within our planet.
The finding, published Thursday in Science, represents the first detection of naturally occurring ice-VII ever found on Earth. However visual identification in a diamond is tough because it bends light - which is what makes them so handsome - so it's hard for scientists to rely on what they are seeing because it is extremely distorted, he said.
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.
Normal ice is referred to as ice-I, and the oxygen atoms within organize themselves in a hexagonal shape. When this extreme force formed the diamond, the CaSiO3was trapped inside. It does represent, however, the first and only time we've seen such an arrangement in ice on Earth. This new form of ice, and ice as a whole, is unique in that when pressure increases, the bonds organize themselves in different arrangements rather than squishing together - explains Oliver Tschauner, a professor of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a lead author of the study.
Despite being made up of solid, hot rock under unimaginable pressure, the mantle still has water within it.
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Rossman said that finding ice-VII, even by accident, was a thrill for the whole team.
In the new study, Pearson and his colleagues analyzed a tiny diamond (roughly 3 millimeters across) excavated from Cullinan less than 1 km (0.6 miles) below the Earth's surface. One school of thought suggests the diamonds come up via an inner churning inside the Earth.
While we now know that we can find ice-VII on Earth, it's by no means easy to find. As the diamond was pushed to the surface, it would have cooled while still under pressure, and the ice VII formed within.
It is found deep within the Earth's mantle and is known to be too unstable to exist on the surface. This rare diamond trapped some of the mineral when it formed some 400 miles below the planet's surface-about 275 miles deeper than most of the glittering rocks. But since nobody has been able to keep the mineral stable at accessible depths, it has proven very hard to study. They crack and whatever inclusions they had in them are lost. The diamonds were found in mines in China, Zaire, South Africa, and Sierra Leone and were exposed to X-ray studies at the particle accelerator found at the Argonne National Lab, in IL, the USA. Then, as they rise towards the surface, the cooling temperatures allows ice-VII to form.
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