Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Massive diamond cache may be hidden 100 miles below Earth’s surface

Massive diamond cache may be hidden 100 miles below Earth’s surface

There may be more than a quadrillion tonnes of these precious minerals buried below Earth's surface, according to new research by an global team of scientists. These formations - which are shaped like inverted mountains and lie at the center of the planet's tectonic plates, according to MIT News - stretch up to 200 miles into the Earth. 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.

An enormous treasure trove of diamonds has been discovered deep inside our planet.

The study was made by a team of people from Harvard, MIT and the University of California at Berkeley and it shows that diamonds are not really those rare, exotic minerals, but that they're actually quite common. "We can't get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before". The study was undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Faul and his colleagues came to their conclusion after puzzling over an anomaly in seismic data. Seismic receivers around the world pick up sound waves from such sources, at various speeds and intensities, which seismologists can use to determine where, for example, an quake originated.

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.

Geologists have used this relationship between seismic velocity and rock composition to estimate the types of rocks that make up the Earth's crust and parts of the upper mantle.

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With this data, obtained by the US Geological Society (USGS) and others, scientists were able to create an image of the inside of Earth.

Cratons are stable parts in the crust and mantle of the Earth that are usually less dense and colder than the parts surrounding them. Then we have to say, There is a problem.

The researchers aimed to identify the composition of cratonic roots that might explain the spikes in seismic speeds.

Because we can't just go look at the 100-miles-deep cratons ourselves (the deepest hole we've ever dug didn't even get a tenth of the way), the researchers built a virtual mantle using a computer algorithm and played around with different compositions until they found one that matched up with what they were observing.

The researchers estimate that the roots, or bottom sections, of these cratons may be composed of 1-2% diamond.

"Diamond in many ways is special", Dr Faul said. The sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as the other minerals.

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