HomeLatest NewsScientists unravel mystery of diamond eruptions linked to ancient tectonic events

Scientists unravel mystery of diamond eruptions linked to ancient tectonic events

LONDON: After years of speculation, scientists from United Kingdom’s University of Southampton have uncovered the long-standing mystery surrounding the emergence of diamonds from the Earth’s surface.

The breakthrough reveals that these valuable gemstones are propelled to the surface during kimberlite eruptions, described as a “fountain of diamonds”.

Kimberlite eruptions involve a blend of water, rock, carbon dioxide, and essential kimberlite materials, including diamonds, forming a powerful surge that can reach speeds of up to 83 miles per hour.

The research points to major geological events, specifically the separation of tectonic plates, as the trigger for these eruptions.

The investigation suggests that when tectonic plates shift, rocks in the upper mantle and lower crust mix and flow against each other, setting off these diamond-rich eruptions.

The data analysis indicates that these “fountains of diamonds” occur at intervals of 22 to 30 million years.

Professor Thomas Gernon, specialising in Earth and Climate Science, expressed the team’s goal of identifying new, untapped diamond deposits.

He emphasised the significant time these diamonds spend at the base of continents, awaiting a stimulus that leads to powerful and explosive eruptions.

The findings shed light on why these eruptions are periodic, aligning with major geological events like the division of the super continent Gondwana around 180 million years ago.

This division ultimately gave rise to continents like South America and Africa, with diamond eruptions occurring 25 million years later.

Professor Gernon highlighted the organised physical process involved, suggesting that the phenomenon might extend beyond kimberlites, influencing various Earth system processes.

The research utilised statistical analysis and machine learning to investigate the link between continental breakup and kimberlite volcanism.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Thea Hincks emphasised the team’s geospatial analysis, revealing a gradual migration of kimberlite eruptions from continental edges to interiors over time, with consistent rates across continents.

The breakthrough not only demystifies the origin of diamonds but also provides valuable insights into Earth’s geological processes and their impact on the precious gemstone’s journey to the surface. AFP

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