Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth's surface

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 19, 2018

There's a load of bling buried in the Earth.

There may be a quadrillion tons of diamonds under the Earth's surface, according to study conducted by an global team of scientists and published Monday in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.

But don't get your hopes up on mining them: According to the study, the deposits are located in "cratonic roots" between 90 and 150 miles below the Earth's surface (much further than any drill has gone).

"This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it's relatively common", Ulrich Faul, a co-author of the study and research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, told MIT News.

More than a quadrillion tons of diamonds to be exact - or one thousand times more than one trillion - United States researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported this week.

MIT scientists reportedly made the discovery while examining sound waves traveling through the planet during seismic events.

Cratonic roots are the most ancient sections of rock under tectonic plates, shaped like upside-down mountains. They noticed sound waves seemed to travel too quickly through cratons.

"Diamond in many ways is special", Faul explained.

They found that the only type of rock that matched the speeds they were detecting in craton would contain one to two percent diamond.

Scientists came up with an estimate of around a quadrillion tons of diamonds by taking into account the total volume of cratonic roots scattered inside Earth.

"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".

They emerge near the surface only through volcanic eruptions that occur rarely - on the order of every few tens of millions of years.

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