Diamond mine based around a kimberlite pipe Deep below the surface of our planet, an ocean lurks. It’s a secret world of water we only know about because of an unlikely messenger: diamonds. The rocks we see and interact with every day – mountain ranges, crumbling coastal cliffs, maybe the soft sediments and soils that line valley floors – are only a small portion of all the rocks on Earth. In-between the surface of the planet and the iron-rich core is the mantle, a warm, thick, gooey layer of rocks that f lows like plastic. This is where the diamonds grow, hundreds of kilometres down.
As the gemstones form, they freeze a moment of deep mantle geology, and when they arrive at the surface, scientists can poke and prod at them to understand more about the conditions within the planet. From the stories those diamonds tell, the mantle is very, very wet, and may contain as much – or more – water than all of the Earth’s oceans put together. Water is one of the key factors that sets Earth apart from other worlds, and a prime target when hunting for possible life out in the Universe. Could these diamonds offer us insight into the formation of Earth and other planetary bodies?
SUPERCRITICAL FLUID A supercritical fluid forms at specific temperatures and pressures. It has characteristics of both liquids and gases. For example, it can dissolve substances like a liquid. Fluids in the mantle behave in this way, dissolving gas and rocks.
DIAMONDS ARE A GEOLOGIST’S BEST FRIEND
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