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Diamonds May Be More Common Than We Think

posted: 11/04/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Pretty colorful diamond
saruto/Getty Images

Diamond formation may be much simpler and widespread than previously understood, according to new research.

Using chemical models, Johns Hopkins University scientists believe that they have identified a new method of diamond formation that occurs as pH levels drop during high-pressure and high-temperature interactions between water and rock.

Although the researchers have yet to test their theory with actual minerals, they note that their process is a "natural chemical reaction that is simpler than the two main processes that up to now have been understood to produce diamonds."

They also note, however, that this method doesn't form the types of rocks that make their way into the diamond trade.

Related: Rare Plant Pinpoints Exact Location of Diamonds

For one thing, most of the diamonds that form this way are too deep in the Earth to be easily harvested. While humans have only drilled 9 miles into the surface, diamonds form at depths up to ten times that depth. Furthermore, most diamonds measure mere microns, making them invisible to the naked eye.

Nonetheless, the new finding is an important step in furthering our understanding of precious stones.

"The more people look, the more they're finding diamonds in different rock types now," study co-author Dimitri A. Sverjensky explains in a news release. "I think everybody would agree there's more and more environments of diamond formation being discovered."

Sverjensky's research is published in the online journal Nature Communications.

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