Scientists have found a small rock inside a diamond from South Africa. The tiny rock contains a mineral that has never been found before. This new substance might reveal some of the unusual chemical reactions taking place inside the mantle of the Earth.
Researchers mined the new mineral from a Koffiefontein pipe in South Africa which is famous for producing some of the world’s famous diamonds. The mine is run by De Beers. The findings of the research by scientists from the University of Alberta which is published in American Mineralogist, introduced this particular new mineral ‘Goldschmidtite’ ((K,REE,Sr)(Nb,Cr)O3), which is in honor of geochemist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, according to the research study.
When diamonds are mined, they contain small bits of other minerals that are found deep below the Earth’s surface. In one of such shining stones, the researchers saw a dark green, opaque mineral which they estimated to have mined from around 105 miles (170 km) under the surface.
“Goldschmidtite has high concentrations of niobium, potassium, and the rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium, whereas the rest of the mantle is dominated by other elements, such as magnesium and iron,” Nicole Meyer, graduate student at University of Alberta’s Diamond Exploration Research and Training School and the lead author of the research, said in a statement.
Potassium and niobium make the most of this new mineral, this means that these rare elements were brought together and then concentrated which led to the formation of the unusual mineral, she added.
According to data available on National Geographic, the mantle of the Earth is approximately 1,802 miles (2,900 km) thick. So the lowermost regions of this layer are difficult to study. The extreme heat and pressure in the upper layer of mantle transform carbon into diamond. By studying the minerals which come included with the diamonds when they are mined, researchers can go through the chemical processes which occured way below the Earth’s crust.
“Goldschmidtite is highly unusual for an inclusion captured by diamond and gives us a snap-shot of fluid-processes that affect the deep roots of continents during diamond formation,” Graham Pearson, Meyer’s co-supervisor said in the statement.