Yet this doesn’t mean that the precious gems would become affordable overnight. Researchers explained that the precious stones are still deeply embedded within the Earth’s crust and only volcanic activity can carry them up to the surface.
Dimitri A. Sverjensky, co-author of the study and geochemist with Johns Hopkins university, argued that diamond formation processes in the great depths of our planet are more common than science had thought.
The study was published Nov. 3 in the journal Nature Communications.
Study authors, however, explained that despite diamond formation being not so rare this doesn’t mean that it would become easier to find quality diamonds and bring them to the surface.
Although there may be more methods of diamond, diamonds in places that can be easily mined still remain relatively scarce. In the first place, they need to be displaced from the ‘very deep Earth,’ as Sverjensky put it, by rare volcanic eruptions and brought closer to the surface.
Additionally, researchers who found that diamonds may be more abundant than previously thought explained that they were talking about tiny precious stones that are microns across and cannot be observed with a naked eye.
In their research, Sverjensky and fellow researcher Fang Huang used a chemical model. The model allowed them to see that diamonds can emerge in the wake of simple chemical reactions, too, rather than just through the two methods science was aware of until now.
The new model revealed that diamonds can form if water’s pH in rock layers changes. So far, scientists knew that diamonds can form only via the oxidation of methane or the reduction of CO2. Oxidation means that methane gains more electrons, while reduction translates into a weaker oxidation state. The two processes are known as a ‘redox’ processes.
Sverjensky said that explaining how the redox processes occurred was pretty challenging. For instance, both separate reactions need two different types of fluids that encounter environments with the perfect oxidation states. And that is pretty uncommon.
But the new research suggests that water, too, could lead to diamond formation if its pH falls while it travels from one geological layer to another. The discovery is not unique. In the last two decades scientists found other processes that suggest diamonds may be more widespread than previously estimated.
“The more people look, the more they’re finding diamonds in different rock types now,”
Sverjensky also said.
He added that that may suggest there are more environments that promote the precious stones’ formation than we once thought.
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