Diamonds Deposits Found InThe Earth’s Interior Thanks To A Seismic Anomaly

Diamonds are less rare than you probably thought.   REUTERS  Phil Noble

"Diamonds are a ideal match because they're a little bit more dense, but we don't need a lot of them", said Ulrich Faul, a researcher in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and a senior participant in the study.

According to the study's report, the diamonds caches are present within cratonic roots which are the most ancient rocks that reside below the centers of the Earth's tectonic plaques.

The deposits sit some 90 to 150 miles below the Earth's surface, much deeper than current mining machinery allows. These are sometimes seen as upside-down mountains stretching as deep as 320 kilometers (200 miles). The latest insights come thanks to years of seismic data from the USGS, used to solve a persistent mystery among geologists.

Faul said the location of the diamonds at the base of the cratons makes the most sense, as diamonds are formed via extreme pressure and extreme heat, so the weight from all the rock above provides ideal conditions for their formation deep in the Earth's mantle. That's exactly what researchers from MIT have accomplished with the help of seismic waves flowing through the Earth. A variety of things impact the sound waves, such as a rock's density and temperature.

This could easily explain the higher sound velocities that were detected.

Scientists can also use this seismic data to construct an image of what the Earth's interior might look like.

Using this data, particularly the speed at which sound waves pass through rocks, scientists are able to piece together an idea of the Earth's interior.

The researchers found that these sound waves tend to speed up when passing through the bottom, or roots, of cratons - much faster than they had previously thought.

'Then we have to say, "There is a problem". "That's how this project started", Dr. Faul said. Then, the global science team managed to calculate the differences in the speed of sound waves as they passed through different combinations of rocks and minerals. The only model that produced speeds that lined up with what they were seeing in the real world was the one that assumed the massive cratonic roots were made up of 1 to 2 per cent diamond, in addition to peridotite and eclogite.

"Diamond in many ways is special".

'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'.

Cratons are naturally less dense than the surrounding rock, and the presence of the diamond does not change that.

Cratons are stationary sections of rock that are among the oldest on the planet. "So we found that you just need 1 to 2 percent diamond for cratons to be stable and not sink".

Garber said "Our understanding of deep Earth continues to improve because we do more measurements, use more and sometimes get samples".

They then funnel hydrogen and methane gas heat to 3,000°C (5,400°F) into the chamber to create a highly charged gas known as plasma.

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