March 21, 2018

South African diamond provides new clues on Earth's internal processes

11 March 2018, 02:23 | Lena Norman

This diamond contains the first evidence of calcium silicate perovskite found in nature. Credit Nester Korolev UBC

This diamond contains the first evidence of calcium silicate perovskite found in nature. Credit Nester Korolev UBC

Probably not a huge discovery, you may think, but this ice, names Ice-VII, is coming from the Earth's mantle and has been supposed, until now, that it only naturally exists on other planets and their moons and can only be made in a lab.

One of the only ways to actually keep it stable in the surface will be to trap it inside an nearly indestructible and strong container like a diamond, he explained. A never-before-seen mineral has been discovered hiding in a "super deep" diamond formed in the Earth's mantle.

Known as "Calcium Silicate Perovskite", the mineral was found by researchers well-preserved in a diamond. 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.

Over about a billion years, it was forced deeper and deeper into the Earth. 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.

Graham Pearson was quoted in an American online magazine Inverse saying, "This was very special because this mineral had been theoretically predicted, but it was not thought possible to see it preserved at the Earth's surface for observation and measurement".

Cullinan Mine is known as the source of some of the world's largest diamonds.

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It is true that the history of the planet Earth has been only recorded partially.

"Based on our findings, there could be as much as zetta tonnes (1021) of this perovskite in deep Earth", co-author Graham Pearson, who is a professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a statement. While most diamonds are formed at a depth of about 150 to 200 km, this one possibly formed at a depth of at least 700 km, notes the report.

"This mineral doesn't have a use, it's use is that it tells us a great deal of the inner workings of the deepest parts of the Earth", he said.

The diamond's structure managed to protect the CaSiO3 and prevented its crystal lattice from being deformed while the diamond moved to the Earth's surface. According to Brandon Specktor of Live Science, the piece of CaSiO3 was visible to the naked eye once the diamond was polished, but an worldwide team of researchers collaborated on analyzing the precious stone with X-ray and spectroscopy tests.

Diamond provides the "fundamental proof" for a long time formulated the idea that slabs of oceanic crust that sink deep into the Ground, go into the lower mantle, researchers say.

"Diamonds are really unique ways of seeing what's in the Earth".

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