Tag Archives: diamond deposit

Rock with 30,000 diamonds found Russian diamond mine

Do you fancy diamonds? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’ll absolutely love this rock extracted from a Russian mine. The rock is littered with over 30,000 diamonds, something which is extremely rare and may yield valuable information about how diamonds form in natural conditions.

What’s unlucky for gem sellers was very fortunate for researchers – because the tiny diamonds are so small, they are pretty much worthless as gems, so they donated the rock for study. Hurray for science!

The rock was extracted from the huge Udachnaya pipe, an open-pit mine located in Russia, just outside the Arctic circle. It’s one of the biggest diamond mines in Europe and in the world. The results were reported by geologist Larry Taylor from the University of Tennessee this week at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting.

“The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond,” said Taylor at the meeting. “It’s like they formed instantaneously.”

The Udachnaya pipe. Image via Wiki Commons.

Even thought the diamonds are so small, the concentration of diamonds in the ore is humongous: million times more than usually. This remarkable association of diamonds and other minerals will hopefully reveal the exact chemical reactions which lead to the formation of diamonds on Earth – which are still a mystery. Taylor said:

“The associations of minerals will tell us something about the genesis of this rock, which is a strange one indeed. The [chemical] reactions in which diamonds occur still remain an enigma,” Taylor told Live Science.

Although highly regarded as the a gem and extracted for this purpose for centuries, we still don’t know exactly how diamonds form. According to our current understanding, diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 118 mi) in the Earth’s mantle. Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over extremely long periods from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years! Diamonds are then brought close to the Earth’s surface through deep volcanic eruptions by a magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites. The heat destroys most of the material surrounding the diamonds, but the diamonds still resist. There are also ways of creating artificial diamonds, but the exact chemistry still eludes us.

Diamond formation. Image via GeoScienceWorld.

But while you do see several diamonds on the same rock, you almost never find a rock with so many. Working with researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Taylor analysed the rock using an industrial X-ray tomography scanner to figure out how it ended up with such a staggering amount of diamonds and remained intact when it was raised to the surface.

“The clear crystals are just 0.04 inches (1 millimetre) tall and are octahedral, meaning they are shaped like two pyramids that are glued together at the base,” says Oskin. “The rest of the rock is speckled with larger crystals of red garnet, and green olivine and pyroxene. Minerals called sulphides round out the mix. A 3D model built from the X-rays revealed the diamonds formed after the garnet, olivine and pyroxene minerals.”

The minerals also had some exotic material included in their structure. These inclusions were once fluids that seeped out of the Earth’s oceanic crust when one tectonic plate crashed onto another. These fluids crystallized and became an integral part of the diamonds, much deeper in the earth and much, much later. This is either a very strange and unusual formation, or…

“[The source] could be just a really, really old formation that’s been down in the mantle for a long time,” Sami Mikhail from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the US, who was not involved in the research, told Live Science.

 

 

Russia declassifies diamond deposit – trillions of carats, enough for the entire world for 3.000 years

Russia announced the declassification of a huge diamond deposit, twice as hard as average ones, and about 10 times bigger than the global supply available today. The sensational announcement was made by Novosibirsk scientists of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and it could detonate the entire global diamond market.

The deposit is located in a crypto-explosion structure- a hundred kilometres’ meteorite crater formed some 35 million years ago; back when they found it, in the 70s, Russian field geologists studying the place found the first evidence of the hardness of the diamonds. However, during those times, the Soviet government was determined to run a program to create synthetic diamonds, so after the initial studies were done, the data was classified and all further studies were put to a halt. However, now, over 40 years later, geologists and geophysicists believe there are enough diamonds to overturn the entire market.

 

“The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popigai crypto-explosion structure, are by a factor of ten bigger than the world’s all known reserves. We are speaking about trillions of carats, for comparison – present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats,” he said.

Aside from the immensity of the deposit and hardness, the diamonds are also special due to their large grain size; diamonds with similar properties have not been found anywhere else in the world, and this is most likely associated with the violent birth of the field. These properties also mean they can be extremely useful for industrial purposes, especially in the creation of semiconductors and drills.

Many major corporations have already taken an interest in this massive discovery, but the Russian government will probably want to keep as much of the pie as they can.

Mirny diamond mine in Russia – unrelated, but good to get an idea about what a Russian diamond mine looks like

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