Never Before Seen Mineral Discovered Inside a Diamond
Calcium silicate perovskite, a mineral never seen before in nature, has been discovered inside a diamond formed deep in the earth’s mantle.
According to a study published in “Science” and quoted in The Scientific American, it is a rare find that may reveal “new information about the structure of the planet at depths of more than 660 kilometers” and help “geologists better understand how the mantle controls the earth’s plate tectonics.”
According to mineralogist Oliver Tschauner of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the sample of calcium silicate perovskite possibly formed between 660 and 900 km below the planet’s surface, and the mineral can only be formed under tremendous pressure. Although the mineral has been artificially created in a lab before, the chances of finding it in nature were thought to be extremely low.
It was a surprise, then, when Tschauner and his colleagues found three minuscule specks of calcium silicate perovskite inside a diamond from the Orapa mine in Botswana. According to the report, this version of calcium silicate “had a telltale cubic crystal structure that marked it as different” from other versions of the mineral. Tschauner and his colleagues named the new mineral “davemaoite,” after geologist Ho-Kwang “Dave” Mao.
After X-raying the specks of davemaoite to analyze the inclusions and then drilling into two of them with a laser, they found the davemaoite contained “a surprisingly high amount of potassium”, which “hints at a global ‘conveyor belt’ that circulates elements between the crust and deep mantle.” This discovery, as well as other hypotheses that arise from the find, open up “an area of study that is only just becoming possible.”
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