A Quadrillion Tons Of Diamonds Have Been Hiding Beneath The Earth’s Surface

Posted: Jul 18 2018, 10:26pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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A Quadrillian Tons of Diamonds are Hidding Beneath the Earth’s Surface
Credit: Cary Wolinsky/National Geographic

The discovery was made possible by sound wave technology

Researchers have found a surprisingly large treasure trove of diamonds deep in the Earth’s interior. Thanks to sound wave technology, researchers estimate that there are more than a quadrillion tons of diamonds hidden beneath the Earth's surface but they are lying around 100 miles below. That’s is far deeper than any drilling expedition has reached before.

“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the (geological) scale of things, it's relatively common," said Ulrich Faul, a research scientist at MIT. "We can't get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before."

Researchers came to their conclusion after finding an anomaly in seismic data. It is the same technology that measures earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions and other ground-shaking events. Seismic activity from underground sources is picked up in the form of sound waves and these sound waves move at various speeds through the Earth, depending on the temperature, density, and composition of the rocks through which they travel. Based on this data, researchers determine the types of rocks that make up the Earth's crust and upper mantle, also known as the lithosphere.

Deep inside the Earth’s interior, researchers detected a strange anomaly that they could not explain. The area involves cratonic roots, the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that go down as deep as 200 miles through the Earth's crust and into its mantle. Geologists refer to their deepest sections as "roots."

Researchers found that sound waves tend to speed up significantly when they pass through the roots of ancient cratons. Cratons are usually cooler and less dense than the surrounding mantle, which results in slightly faster sound waves, but it should not be as fast as what has been measured.

To find out, researchers used seismic data to create a 3D model of the rocks. Then they calculated how fast sound waves would travel through each virtual rock. Only cratonic roots produced the same velocities as what the seismologists measured. Researchers estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamonds, least 1,000 times more diamond than previously thought.

Diamonds form in the high-pressure, high-temperature environment of the deep Earth and close to the surface through volcanic eruptions that occur every few tens of millions of years. This is the best explanation for why seismic data showed spikes in speeds.

"It's circumstantial evidence, but we've pieced it all together," said Faul. "We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one that's left as a reasonable explanation."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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