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There might be a quadrillion tons of diamond hiding deep underneath Earth's surface, according to a new study. But it will be a while until diamonds are every girl's best friend: the lavish gems are located so deep, no drill in existence can reach them.
Located over 100 miles below Earth's tectonic plates are ancient, hard rocks called "cratonic roots" that potentially consist of one to two percent diamond — totaling a quadrillion tons. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other universities studied sound waves that rumble through Earth's surface after a natural disaster or explosion, called seismic data, to uncover the type of rocks concealed beneath.
“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it’s relatively common,” Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement. “We can’t get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before.”
The discovery that Earth contains 1,000 times more diamond than people thought started when scientists realized sound waves where rolling through the deepest section of Earth's crust faster than they should.
Scientists then assembled a 3D model of virtual rocks and virtual sound waves to measure the pace sound waves have when they move through a particular type of rock. There was only one plausible outcome for their findings: Earth’s major cratons consist of up to two percent diamond.
These diamonds will likely only shine in the light of day if a volcano erupts and carries the diamonds to the surface in its magma. Magma spews to the surface as lava by forcing its way and creating "pipes" made of kimberlite rock in the process.
These pipes are often found at the end of cratonic roots — roots being the deepest section — in Canada, Siberia, Australia and South Africa, further confirming the theory at cratonic roots are in part made of diamond. The National Science Foundation also supports the research.
“We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one that’s left as a reasonable explanation, " Faul said in a statement.
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