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Rock with 30,000 diamonds found but their origin is still unknown

By Stephen Morgan     Dec 17, 2014 in Science
A mysterious Russian rock has been discovered containing 30,000 tiny diamonds. The rock itself may actually be worth a minimal amount, but its strange form adds to the mystery of how diamonds are actually created.
Unfortunately, this rock isn't a girl's best friend, but it will make scientists swoon. The sparkling red and green rock was unearthed in the massive Udachnayaa diamond mine in Russia and was donated to scientists for analysis.
The diamonds are so small that they are worthless money-wise, but in terms of scientific value, they are a potentially priceless discovery. Researchers say they have no idea how diamonds were formed and the origin of this rock is particularly mysterious.
Researchers have found that the density of diamonds in this rock is millions of times greater than that in any normal samples of diamond ore. Larry Taylor, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, believes that the diamonds somehow formed instantaneously.
Live Science quotes Taylor as saying, "The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond."
Although we can recreate them artificially in a laboratory, how they form naturally in the earth remains a puzzle. The exceptionally rare and strange character of this particular rock may help geologists in their the ongoing research.
"The [chemical] reactions in which diamonds occur still remain an enigma," said Taylor. The theory is that diamonds are created far below the Earth's surface, in between its molten core and its crust. They are then propelled to the surface by volcanic explosions.
The Telegraph reports that scientists examining the Udachnayaa rock at the Russian Academy of Sciences have scanned its interior and found that the tiny diamonds are stuck together in the form of two co-joined pyramids. The larger crystals on the outside are made of garnet, olivine and pyroxene and are responsible for its red green exterior.
The interior contains exotic materials into which the geologists beamed electrons. The chemical mixture they found tends to back up the theory that diamonds crystallize from fluids escaping from the oceanic crust in a process known as subduction, by which the Earth's tectonic plates crumble under one another.
Why the Udachnayaa rock formed in such an unusual way isn't clear, but Sami Mikhail, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C believes that it comes from "a really, really old formation that's been down in the mantle for a long time." The Udachnaya mine is the third deepest diamond mine in the world sinking to 600 metres (nearly 2,000ft).
The researchers' findings will be published next month in a special issue of Russian Geology and Geophysics.
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