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This Tiny Diamond Contains a Mineral That's Never Been Seen Before

10 March 2018, 04:39 | Justin Tyler

This Tiny Diamond Contains a Mineral That's Never Been Seen Before

A tiny diamond found with a never before-seen mineral usually found at 700km depth

The pressures ice-VII requires to form can be found on our planet, but they exist only deep in the mantle where the temperature is too warm for this form of ice to be stable. This is because it is typically buried around 650 kilometers (400 mi.) deep within the Earth.

The paper on the perovskite diamond appeared online Wednesday in the journal Nature, under the title "CaSiO3 perovskite in diamond indicates the recycling of oceanic crust into the lower mantle".

For the first time, scientists have found Earth's fourth most abundant mineral-calcium silicate perovskite-at Earth's surface.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains nearly constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand", Tschauner said. The mine is located on a well known diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.

"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", he explained.

The mantle - which makes up more than 80 percent of the Earth's volume - is made of silicate minerals containing iron, aluminum, and calcium among others. With the real mineral in the hands of scientists, they now have the opportunity to study it in detail.

"Nobody has ever managed to keep this mineral stable at the Earth's surface", study co-author Graham Pearson, a professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a statement.

The rare Earth mineral embedded in the diamond measures only 0.031 millimeters across.

While this study documents the first time we've seen this new form of ice on Earth, scientists do believe that it may be found in larger deposits in areas such as the interior of ice moons like Enceladus or Europa - or even part of the ocean floor of Titan. The diamond from which the compound was extracted came from a South African mine at a depth of just a kilometer. It was found in the form of Ice VII, a high-pressure form of water inside the diamonds.

Prevented from crystallizing under high pressure, the water froze as geological activity eventually moved the diamonds to the surface.

"Diamonds are really unique ways of seeing what's in the Earth", said Pearson. The researchers revealed that the diamond provides "fundamental proof" of the long-theorized idea that slabs of oceanic crust that sink deep within Earth are recycled in the lower mantle. He added that studying such diamonds would provide an insight into the oceanic crust and exactly what happens when a denser oceanic plate plunges into the Earth's mantle when opposed to continental plates.

According to the researcher, diamonds are a completely unique way to see what's inside the Earth and how it is composed of.

It is true that the history of the planet Earth has been only recorded partially.

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