Diamonds

Diamonds Form from Seawater

A new theory as to the origins of diamonds proposes that the precious stones formed from seawater millions of years ago, writes the Daily Mail.

It's been found that diamonds, the hardest natural material to form on Earth, are in essence crystallized carbon that has formed due to exceptionally high pressures or temperature.

The formation process occurs deep beneath Earth's crust, with studies showing that this can happen even as deep as 435 mi (700 km) under our very feet. Usually the depth at which they form is on the border with the mantle or 87 - 155 mi (140 to 250 km) under the surface.

Violent volcanic eruptions rip diamonds from the mantle and expel them to the surface along with the lava. That is how they end up in rocks called kimberlite, which miners study today.

Geology experts have always known that precious stones crystallized from some type of unknown liquid, with its composition remaining a mystery until recently.

To unveil the secret, a team of geochemists analyzed rocks from the Ekati diamond mine in the Canadian tundra, which are barely (from a geological standpoint) 45 million years old.

Small Diamonds

The breakthrough in their theories about seawater playing a part in the formation of diamonds was owed to the deep research of the cheapest diamonds - ones that were broken, dirty and chock full of impurities. Using the impurities it's possible to judge how and where the rocks formed.

"Once something gets trapped in a diamond, from that moment on the material in question remains the same for millions of years, " explains Jacob Weiss, head of the project.

"This way the precious stones become a sort of time capsule and carry with them something that we would otherwise never be able to see, " he adds.

In 11 of the samples of these so-called dirty diamonds, the scientists found drops of water encased for eternity. The liquid contained chlorine, sodium and potassium, just like seawater.

From these findings, the scientists concluded that seawater from the ocean bottom seeps into Earth's crust and through a chemical reaction creates a mixture which then forms the precious stones.

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