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Biggest gem quality diamonds born from metallic liquid deep inside Earth’s mantle - study

16 december 2016
According to a recently conducted study, the world’s biggest and most-valuable diamonds are formed from metallic liquid deep inside Earth’s mantle, Science magazine reported.
The research team, led by Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), studied large gem diamonds like the world-famous Cullinan or Lesotho Promise by examining their so-called “offcuts,” which are the pieces left over after the gem’s facets are cut for maximum sparkle. They determined that these diamonds sometimes have tiny metallic grains trapped inside them that are made up of a mixture of metallic iron and nickel, along with carbon, sulfur, methane, and hydrogen.
These inclusions indicate that the diamonds formed, like all diamonds, in the Earth’s mantle, but they did so under conditions in which they were saturated by liquid metal. The research shows that pure carbon crystalized from this pool of liquid metal in order to form the large gem diamonds.
Most diamonds form at depths around 90-150 miles under the continents. But so-called “superdeep” diamonds form much deeper—at depths below 240 miles.
"We verify previous predictions that Earth has highly reducing deep mantle regions capable of precipitating a metallic iron phase that contains dissolved carbon and hydrogen…The existence of this metal mixture has broad implications for our understanding of deep Earth processes," Smith said.

Theodor Lisovoy, Rough&Polished, Moscow