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U of A researcher finds never-seen mineral inside 'super-deep diamond'

10 March 2018

The mineral calcium silicate perovskite might be rare to come by but it is believed to be abundantly present inside the Earth. The discovery - described this week in the journal Nature - suggests Earth's deep mantle is hiding more water than previously thought.

Th scientific article also states that it is important to confirm the presence of calcium silicate perovskites deep in Earth because they are the dominant hosts for calcium and the major sink for heat-producing elements (potassium, uranium and thorium) in the transition zone and lower mantle.

Researchers said that the presence of ice inside the diamonds suggests that pockets of watery fluids exist deep in the mantle, the Earth's layer that is sandwiched between the crust and the core and is made up mostly of solid and very hot rock under enormous pressure.

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Geologists recently unearthed a diamond that contained a mineral that had never been seen before on the Earth's surface, as it becomes unstable above a depth of 650 km (400 miles). And that is because perovskite (calcium silicate, CaSiO3) is not found on the surface at all, and occurs at depths of 700 kilometers (435 miles), in Earth's deep mantle.

The natural convection of the mantle will eventually transport a portion of these diamonds to the surface of the Earth. The only possible way of preserving this mineral at the Earth's surface is when it's trapped in an unyielding container like a diamond. Cullinan Mine is known for its diamond yield of which, two largest diamonds are affixed in the British Crown Jewels.

These sparkling and super-strong crystals of carbon atoms produced under the crushing pressures generated deep in the Earth's bowels could give us a clue to how much water might be hiding beneath our planet's crust. While most diamonds are formed at a depth of about 150 to 200 km, this one possibly formed at a depth of at least 700 km, notes the report.

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Pearson gave an estimate of around 24 billion pascals which is the pressure sustained by such kind of diamond.

Diamonds that form in the Earth's mantle don't originally capture ice-VII. "It provides fundamental proof of what happens to the fate of oceanic plates as they descend into the depths of the Earth", he added.

An global team of researchers have discovered high-pressure ice crystals embedded inside diamonds, technology, science and science fiction website Gizmodo reported.

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"You build on theoretical predictions-in this case, from seismology-and...once in a while you're able to make a clinching observation that really proves that the theory works", concluded professor Graham Pearson. The team of researchers led the foundation for "Diamond Exploration Research and Training School" which will train the future diamond explorers.

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U of A researcher finds never-seen mineral inside 'super-deep diamond'