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All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....
  
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 17, 2018 05:50    Post subject: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth's interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to set off a diamond rush. The scientists estimate the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.

The ultradeep cache may be scattered within cratonic roots -- the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates. Shaped like inverted mountains, cratons can stretch as deep as 200 miles through the Earth's crust and into its mantle; geologists refer to their deepest sections as "roots."

In the new study, scientists estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamond. Considering the total volume of cratonic roots in the Earth, the team figures that about a quadrillion (1016) tons of diamond are scattered within these ancient rocks, 90 to 150 miles below the surface.

"This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it's relatively common," says Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. "We can't get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before."

Faul's co-authors include scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the University of California at Berkeley, Ecole Polytechnique, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Science and Technology of China, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Melbourne, and University College London.

A sound glitch

Faul and his colleagues came to their conclusion after puzzling over an anomaly in seismic data. For the past few decades, agencies such as the United States Geological Survey have kept global records of seismic activity -- essentially, sound waves traveling through the Earth that are triggered by earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions, and other ground-shaking sources. 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 earthquake originated.

Scientists can also use this seismic data to construct an image of what the Earth's interior might look like. Sound waves move at various speeds through the Earth, depending on the temperature, density, and composition of the rocks through which they travel. Scientists 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, also known as the lithosphere.

However, in using seismic data to map the Earth's interior, scientists have been unable to explain a curious anomaly: Sound waves tend to speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons. Cratons are known to be colder and less dense than the surrounding mantle, which would in turn yield slightly faster sound waves, but not quite as fast as what has been measured.

"The velocities that are measured are faster than what we think we can reproduce with reasonable assumptions about what is there," Faul says. "Then we have to say, 'There is a problem.' That's how this project started."

Diamonds in the deep

The team aimed to identify the composition of cratonic roots that might explain the spikes in seismic speeds. To do this, seismologists on the team first used seismic data from the USGS and other sources to generate a three-dimensional model of the velocities of seismic waves traveling through the Earth's major cratons.

Next, Faul and others, who in the past have measured sound speeds through many different types of minerals in the laboratory, used this knowledge to assemble virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals. Then the team calculated how fast sound waves would travel through each virtual rock, and found only one type of rock that produced the same velocities as what the seismologists measured: one that contains 1 to 2 percent diamond, in addition to peridotite (the predominant rock type of the Earth's upper mantle) and minor amounts of eclogite (representing subducted oceanic crust). This scenario represents at least 1,000 times more diamond than people had previously expected.

"Diamond in many ways is special," Faul says. "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."

The researchers found that a rock composition of 1 to 2 percent diamond would be just enough to produce the higher sound velocities that the seismologists measured. This small fraction of diamond would also not change the overall density of a craton, which is naturally less dense than the surrounding mantle.

"They are like pieces of wood, floating on water," Faul says. "Cratons are a tiny bit less dense than their surroundings, so they don't get subducted back into the Earth but stay floating on the surface. This is how they preserve the oldest rocks. So we found that you just need 1 to 2 percent diamond for cratons to be stable and not sink."

In a way, Faul says cratonic roots made partly of diamond makes sense. Diamonds are forged in the high-pressure, high-temperature environment of the deep Earth and only make it close to the surface through volcanic eruptions that occur every few tens of millions of years. These eruptions carve out geologic "pipes" made of a type of rock called kimberlite (named after the town of Kimberley, South Africa, where the first diamonds in this type of rock were found). Diamond, along with magma from deep in the Earth, can spew out through kimberlite pipes, onto the surface of the Earth.

For the most part, kimberlite pipes have been found at the edges of cratonic roots, such as in certain parts of Canada, Siberia, Australia, and South Africa. It would make sense, then, that cratonic roots should contain some diamond in their makeup.

"It's circumstantial evidence, but we've pieced it all together," Faul says. "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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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 17, 2018 13:38    Post subject: Re: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

I know this site is non-commercial...but I just had to do a calculation based on average price of natural diamonds....it comes to the mind blowing approximate sum of 2 x 10 to the 24th power Euros....but, of course if accessible, they would be worth not much more than beach sand - as they'd be equally plentiful, if a bit harder and more interesting to look at...... I have made a label in my collection and claim all of these diamonds for my collection - sorry everyone else ;-) LOL

The Universe really is a magical place and the mineral world is IMHO one of the windows into that......

And in the same vein.....what about the giant crystal of iron that might exist in the center of the Earth...only about 1,500 miles [2400 Km] in diameter......and a bit too big for the average collection.....not too mention hard to find a decent stand and display case for....

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A Seismic Adventure
There's a giant crystal buried deep within the Earth, at the very center, more than 3,000 miles down. It may sound like the latest fantasy adventure game or a new Indiana Jones movie, but it happens to be what scientists discovered in 1995 with a sophisticated computer model of Earth's inner core. This remarkable finding, which offers plausible solutions to some perplexing geophysical puzzles, is transforming what Earth scientists think about the most remote part of our planet.

"To understand what's deep in the Earth is a great challenge," says geophysicist Lars Stixrude. "Drill holes go down only 12 kilometers, about 0.2 percent of the Earth's radius. Most of the planet is totally inaccessible to direct observation." What scientists have pieced together comes primarily from seismic data. When shock waves from earthquakes ripple through the planet, they are detected by sensitive instruments at many locations on the surface. The record of these vibrations reveals variations in their path and speed to scientists who can then draw inferences about the planet's inner structure. This work has added much knowledge over the last ten years, including a puzzling observation: Seismic waves travel faster north-south than east-west, about four seconds faster pole-to-pole than through the equator.

This finding, confirmed only within the past two years, quickly led to the conclusion that Earth's solid-iron inner core is "anisotropic" -- it has a directional quality, a texture similar to the grain in wood, that allows sound waves to go faster when they travel in a certain direction. What, exactly, is the nature of this inner-core texture? To this question, the seismic data responds with sphinx-like silence. "The problem," says Ronald Cohen of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, "is then we're stymied. We know there's some kind of structure, the data tells us that, but we don't know what it is. If we knew the sound velocities in iron at the pressure and temperature of the inner core, we could get somewhere." To remedy this lack of information, Stixrude and Cohen turned to the CRAY C90 at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Earth's layered structure -- a relatively thin crust of mobile plates, a solid mantle with gradual overturning movement, and the outer and inner core of molten and solid iron.
Getting to the Core
Don't believe Jules Verne. The center of the Earth is not a nice place to visit, unless you like hanging out in a blast furnace. The outer core of the Earth, about two-thirds of the way to the center, is molten iron. Deeper yet, at the inner core, the pressure is so great -- 3.5 million times surface pressure -- that iron solidifies, even though the temperature is believed to exceed 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of the sun.

Despite rapid advances in high-pressure laboratory techniques, it's not yet possible to duplicate these conditions experimentally, and until Stixrude and Cohen's work, scientists could at best make educated guesses about iron's atom-to-atom architecture -- its crystal structure -- at the extremes that prevail in the inner core. Using a quantum-based approach called density-functional theory, Stixrude and Cohen set out to do better than an educated guess. With recent improvements in numerical techniques, density-functional theory had predicted iron's properties at low pressure with high accuracy, leading the researchers to believe that with supercomputing they could, in effect, reach 3,000 miles down into the inner core and pull out what they needed.

Three crystal structures of iron. Yellow lines show bonds between iron atoms.
Rethinking Inner Earth
On Earth's surface, iron comes in three flavors, standard crystalline forms known to scientists as body-centered cubic (bcc), face-centered cubic (fcc) and hexagonal close-packed (hcp). Working with these three structures as their only input, Stixrude and Cohen carried out an extensive study -- more than 200 separate calculations over two years -- to determine iron's quantum-mechanical properties over a range of high pressures. "Without access to the C90," says Stixrude, "this work would have taken so long it wouldn't have been done."


Prevalent opinion before these calculations held that iron's crystal structure in the inner core was bcc. To the contrary, the calculations showed, bcc iron is unstable at high pressure and not likely to exist in the inner core. For the other two candidates, fcc and hcp, Stixrude and Cohen found that both can exist at high pressure and both would be directional (anisotropic) in how they transmit sound. Hcp iron, however, gives a better fit with the seismic data. All this was new information, but even more surprising was this: To fit the observed anisotropy, the grain-like texture of the inner core had to be much more pronounced than previously thought.

"Hexagonal crystals have a unique directionality," says Stixrude, "which must be aligned and oriented with Earth's spin axis for every crystal in the inner core." This led Stixrude and Cohen to try a computational experiment. If all the crystals must point in the same direction, why not one big crystal? The results, published in Science, offer the simplest, most convincing explanation yet put forward for the observed seismic data and have stirred new thinking about the inner core.

Could an iron ball 1,500 miles across be a single crystal? Unheard of until this work, the idea has prompted realization that the temperature-pressure extremes of the inner core offer ideal conditions for crystal growth. Several high-pressure laboratories have experiments planned to test these results. A strongly oriented inner core could also explain anomalies of Earth's magnetic field, such as tilted field lines near the equator. "To do these esoteric quantum calculations," says Stixrude, "solutions which you can get only with a supercomputer, and get results you can compare directly with messy observations of nature and help explain them -- this has been very exciting."

Researchers: Ronald Cohen and Lars Stixrude, Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Hardware: CRAY C90
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Justin Hickok




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PostPosted: Jul 20, 2018 11:08    Post subject: Re: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

Could be a 1,500 mile wide chunk of magnetite.
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Justin Hickok




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PostPosted: Jul 20, 2018 11:09    Post subject: Re: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

Could be a 1,500 mile wide chunk of magnetite.
Am I the winner winner of today's chicken dinner?
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 20, 2018 13:25    Post subject: Re: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

Justin Hickok wrote:
Could be a 1,500 mile wide chunk of magnetite.
Am I the winner winner of today's chicken dinner?


I trust you are joking or uninformed about deep Earth physics and chemistry. No - it can not be magnetite as there is almost or no Oxygen at that depth. What there is is only iron and perhaps some Ni and perhaps minor traces of Co under very very very high temperatures and pressures....
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Justin Hickok




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PostPosted: Jul 21, 2018 00:23    Post subject: Re: All the Diamonds one could fill your house with - and more - so near...yet so far.....  

Thanks for the info and explaination. Interesting.
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