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Scientists Discover Rare Diamonds Which Present New Information About Earth's Inner Mantle

Dec 20, 2016 05:08 AM EST

The world's biggest diamonds are by far the most prized and most valuable of gemstones. Coincidentally, these rare and large diamonds also hold valuable scientific data that could reveal detailed information about the earth, according to diamond geologist Even Smith.

Diamonds are scientifically valuable all because they come from a deep part of the earth where humans don't have access and also don't have much information about. Due to the rare size and quality of the diamonds, Smith is out to solve the mystery of where exactly these gemstones came from.

"You really couldn't ask for a better vessel to store something in. Diamond is the ultimate Tupperware," said Smith.

Of course, cracking open crown jewels isn't possible so Smith had to make do with eight fingernail-sized chunks of big diamonds. After grinding and cutting the diamonds open, Smith found that the stones contained bits of garnet and silicon content, which is an indicator that they had been formed under extreme pressure.

Traces of iron and nickel which was shrouded in fluid methane was also observed. But according to Smith, this was "unusual." Taking a look at 53 other diamonds, Smith found that 38 of these gemstones contained unusual materials.

"One, they tell us that these large, exceptional quality diamonds originate from extreme depths in the Earth," explained Smith.

By extreme depths, Smith approximates it to 200 to 500 miles below the earth's surface. This is far as under one's feet as NASA's International Space Station is far above one's head.

Additional observation also showed that the diamonds had formed inside patches of liquid metal where oxygen wasn't present. This is hard evidence that the mantle of the Earth is not a uniform layer of oxygen-rich rocks.

"It further complicates things, but it makes us have to think more deeply about what's going on in the planet because ultimately this does affect what we see up on the surface," stated Kanani Lee, a mineral physicist at Yale University.

While the research still fails to provide information as to the extent of metal distribution in the earth's mantle, it has broad implications for helping scientists understand the behavior of the deep earth.

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