Unprecedented mineral found in diamond mined from the depths of the Earth’s mantle

In a major discovery, mineralogists identified an unprecedented mineral in a diamond unearthed from a mine in Botswana, Africa. Small black specks seen in diamond excavated from deep in the lithosphere, about 410 miles (660 km) below the earth’s surface, shed light on the planet’s unexplored secrets that remain hidden in layers below the surface. earthly. The diamond was named after the eminent geophysicist Ho-Kwang (Dave) Mao, Live Science reported.

The mineral, named “davemaoite”, is the earliest example of high pressure calcium silicate perovskite (CaSiO3) found on earth. While another form of the same compound, called wollastonite, is commonly found around the world, davemaoite is rare and unique. Its uniqueness comes from the crystal structure that forms only under high pressure and temperatures in the Earth’s mantle, the predominantly solid layer of the planet trapped between the outer crust and the inner core, Live Science noted.

The International Mineralogical Association confirms the discovery of a “new mineral”

The never-before-seen mineral was expected to be in large quantities in the Earth’s mantle due to its geothermal importance. However, scientists had never directly discovered its evidence because the mineral tends to break down into other minerals when the pressure decreases as it moves towards the earth’s surface. Thus, the sample of intact davemaoite inside the diamond has been confirmed to be a “new mineral” by the International Mineralogical Association.

“The discovery of davemaoite was a surprise,” Oliver Tschauner, a mineralogist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and lead author of the study, told Live Science.

The davemaoite sample was excavated by synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The technique focuses on a high-energy micro-precision X-ray beam at specific locations in the diamond. Experts deciphered the content by measuring the angle and intensity of the returning light, Tschauner said Live Science. However, in this case, the amount of davemaoite inside the diamond was so small (a few micro centimeters) that even powerful sampling techniques could have missed it, he added.

According to Tschauner, davemaoite is an important geothermal mineral found in the earth’s mantle. The mineral also contains trace elements, including uranium and thorium, which release heat through radioactive decay. Therefore, Tschauner informed, this mineral could also help generate a substantial amount of heat in the mantle.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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