General, Research, Technology

The Russian volcano erupts with special diamonds. Where did they come from there?

Mankind first became acquainted with diamonds at least 3,000 years ago. Where do diamonds come from?? Most of them are formed deep underThe earth, at a depth of about 200 kilometers or more, and then carried to the surface by volcanic magma during eruptions. However, researchers studying the volcanic eruption Tolbachik on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, foundsmall diamonds back in 2012-2013, which, as it turned out, were not formed from magma at all. In addition, they were unlike any other diamond in the world, and their number exceeded several hundred. Where did these unusual diamonds come from?

Volcano Tolbachik is one of the few active volcanoes in Kamchatka

How diamonds are mined

The "easiest" way to get diamonds istake carbon and subject it to tremendous pressure in the layers of the Earth's mantle. The carbon then interacts with other rocks in the mantle called kimberlites. They are named after one of the most famous and productive diamond mines in the world in Kimberley, South Africa. It is kimberlites that are one of the primary sources of diamonds. Then the volcanoes raise these rocks closer to the surface, and people can use mines to get access to diamonds, from which diamonds are subsequently made.

However, there was no kimberlite eruption inhuman history ... well, a long time ago. The most recent such phenomenon known to science could have occurred from 10,000 to 20,000 years ago in Tanzania, and the researchers argue whether it happened at all. A more common theory is that the last eruption of diamonds took place 30 million years ago - in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And all this time, mankind has been mining diamonds obtained thanks to these long-standing eruptions.

Are there diamonds in Russia?

So where did they come from then diamonds in Kamchatka? The easternmost peninsula in Russia isthe zone where the Pacific Plate is active. It is because of her that there are a number of active volcanoes in this place, starting in Japan and going north to Kamchatka. In Russia, highly active volcanoes include Shiveluch, Klyuchevsky and Bezymyanny. These are not exactly the places where you expect to find diamonds formed in the Earth's mantle.

Nevertheless, diamonds were found near the Tolbachik volcano. This Russian volcano has produced one of the largest lava flow eruptions in our century, dropping more 1/10 cubic kilometer of lava... As a result of the eruption, explosions occurred, lava fountains formed, which reached a height of hundreds of meters.

The eruption of the Tolbachik volcano in 2012-13. Photo by NASA.

The article by scientists who studied the eruption details the tiny diamonds they found in the lava from Tolbachik. These crystals from 250 to 700 microns (0.7 millimeters), which are mainly found in rocks formed after a volcanic eruption.

Diamonds on Tolbachik volcano

If they did not originate deep in the mantle, what are the sources of these diamonds?

Scientists decided to look at the composition of the foundstones. Surprisingly, the composition of impurities of elements such as nitrogen, fluorine, chlorine and silicon in diamonds corresponded to the composition of volcanic gases from Tolbachik. This suggests that they could have formed from gases released during the eruption.

Microdiamonds found in lava after the 2012-13 eruption on the Tolbachik volcano.

However, these diamonds may have another potential source: people! Could these tiny diamonds reallybe the result of drilling by-products or the sampling tools themselves? No, the possibility of this was ruled out almost immediately. Most diamonds used in industry are synthetic and have a specific nitrogen isotopic composition. Scientists investigated the nitrogen isotope composition of the Tolbachik diamonds and they were not synthetic. In their opinion, these diamonds were formed naturally from volcanic gasesemerging from the lava.

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Is it possible? The phenomenon of crystallization under the influence of lightning electric discharges is not new, and this is how, according to the researchers, these diamonds appeared. Also, this theory is supported by the fact that the stones found are very different from other known diamonds. They have a different combustion temperature, a different composition of trace impurities. That is, these are not synthetic stones, but at the same time they differ from those formed naturally from magma.

If you have already packed your bags and booked a ticket forKamchatka, to get rich in the search for diamonds, return tickets. Due to their composition and tiny size, these diamonds are worth almost nothing. However, these small crystals show how strange volcanic activity can be, and diamonds can form directly from gas, without high pressure.