Where did that Diamond come from?

Topics: Volcano, Diamond, Lava Pages: 6 (2163 words) Published: February 5, 2014
Geology Research ProjectPage 1

Where did that Diamond come from?

Geology Research Project
Rough Draft

December 4, 2013


Geology Research Project – Rough DraftPage 2

Where did that Diamond come from?

Diamonds are seen everywhere in stores and they are displayed in necklaces, earrings, pins and rings. They sparkle brilliantly in the right light. More than likely, most people don’t know how that diamond made it to the store. That diamond will be bought and worn by the lucky recipient. They don’t realize that sparkling diamond or “stone” has gone through extreme heat and pressure, as well as survived a violent ride to the earth’s surface.

In the quest to learn more about where diamonds come from, researchers must first determine how the diamonds grow. After they conducted laboratory experiments, it was determined that diamonds grow in the Earth’s mantle. In fact, it is felt that diamonds grew and were later destroyed or melted as the result of the chemical conditions surrounding them. The researchers determined that lava was almost like the consistency of water and when cooled down the lava was almost the color of limestone. In this limestone colored lava, you can potentially find diamonds. There is only one active volcano that produces carbonatite lava. The location is called the Ol Doinyo Lengai in Northern Tanzania. The molten lava in Northern Tanzania consists of molten carbonates rather than molten silicates. (Volcano Discovery, 2012)

This type of volcano is rare and “appear to be restricted to a few continental rift zones, such as the Rhine Valley and the East African rift system.” (How Volcanoes Work, n.d.) Ol Doinyo Lengai sits between two active volcanoes, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. This volcano has continued to erupt, with a “near-continuous effusion of natrocarbonatite lava from vents inside the crater” (Volcano Discovery, 2012) during the past 30-years. Sometimes these eruptions have been violent. The most recent eruption was in 2008 when a crater was formed and now has spatter cones in it. (Volcano Discovery, 2012)

Now that it has been determined where diamonds grow, the next step is to look at the makeup of a diamond. “Diamonds are formed when carbon deposits are exposed to high pressure and high temperatures for prolonged periods of time.” (Diamonds: Chemistry & Structural Properties, 2012) When these high temperatures and high pressures combine with carbon deposits, a crystal begins to grow. It grows in different shapes such as octahedron, macle, dodecahedron or cubic. Usually diamond growth is a symmetrical structure and the natural form is octahedron, which is an object with eight sides. The depth of the growth can range between 60 to 120 miles down, the pressure is approximately 5 gigapascals and the temperature is can be near 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Diamonds: Chemistry & Structural Properties, 2012) An interesting fact, diamonds can also form under the oceanic crust, although at much greater depths. They also tend to be exposed to the higher pressures and temperatures allowing the crystals to grow larger. (Diamonds: Chemistry & Structural Properties, 2012)

One question that scientists have not been able to answer is, “where does the carbon come from?” It is thought that carbon is somehow already in the earth. Some thought has been given to the carbon originating near the earth’s surface. This would make the carbon from plants, animals or shells, basically whatever could be “carried down into the upper mantle of the Earth by the plate tectonics mechanism called subduction.” (Lineberry, 2006) It is interesting to see all that happens in order for a diamond to begin to grow. The process is a continuous cycle of heat and pressure. Then at just the right moment, the diamond crystal is pushed to the earth’s surface by a violent volcanic eruption. In order for the diamond crystal to survive,...

References: Alchin, L. (1997). Hards As Rocks. Retrieved from www.hardasrocks.info/where-are-diamonds-found.html
Council, W
Diamonds: Chemistry & Structural Properties. (2012). Retrieved from All About Gemstones: http://ww.allaboutgemstones.com/diamond_chemistry_formation.html
Forces of Nature to 2000
Stephanie. (2013, 11 19). Abazias Diamonds. Retrieved from www.abazias.com/diamondblog/diamond-news/scientific-and-medical-applications-of-diamonds
Swiecki, R
Volcano Discovery. (2012). Retrieved from Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/lengai.html
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