Johns Hopkins University researchers found that there are more processes that could lead to diamond formation rather than only two, as science previously thought. Yet, as the precious stones remain hidden deep within the Earth’s crust, don’t expect their price to go down anytime soon.
“Diamond formation in the deep Earth, the very deep Earth, may be a more common process than we thought,”
Dimitri A. Sverjensky, lead-author of the study, recently told reporters.
Dr. Sverjensky and Fang Huang are the two co-authors of a study on diamond formation which was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
The newly found processes that may theoretically boost the numbers of diamonds out there are part of a “quantitative theory on diamond formation,” researchers wrote in their paper. But this doesn’t mean that more gem-quality stones would soon hit the market.
This is manly because diamonds remain embedded within the deepest rock layers of our planet, far from our reach. Very rarely, the shiny stones are brought nearer to the surface when miners can dig them out of soil. It takes violent and rare volcanic eruptions or magma dislocations for this to happen.
Additionally, the diamonds the study is theorizing about are microscopic diamonds that cannot be seen without an optical instrument. The two researchers used a chemical model in their study to show that diamond formation is not that rare and can stem from different sources.
The newly found process that can trigger diamond formation is a lot simpler that the previously known methods: oxidation of methane and reduction of carbon dioxide. The two methods are also known as redox reactions, or chemical processes in which atoms change oxidation state.
The scientists’ model showed that diamonds can emerge when water in rock layers changes pH. If the pH falls, water becomes more acidic creating an environment that is just right for diamond formation to occur. Additionally, this process is more common than redox reactions because it doesn’t require different types of water and an oxidation state of rock layers in order to happen.
The recent research suggests that diamonds may form with help from water while it travels from one rock layer to another.
Sverjensky explained that his team’s theory is consistent with recent findings of diamonds in unusual rock types. He added that scientists may continue to find more environments of diamond formation in the coming future.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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