A new mineral has been found inside of a diamond at a volcanic site in South Africa, with Ph.D. student Nicole Meyer and a team of researchers from the University of Alberta making the discovery.
The new material is known as Goldschmidtite after the legendary geochemist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, and was found atop the Koffiefontein mine in a volcanic dig site, inside of a diamond. Goldschmidtite is an interesting new mineral, and finding it must've felt like ten Christmas mornings at once for the team.
Meyer explained: "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".
We haven't dug into every spot on this planet yet and getting deep into the Earth's crust and closer to the mantle isn't an easy task, leaving researchers combing through the Earth's surface, hoping to find something that trips their interest -- in this case, the discovery of Goldschmidtite.
The entire mantle of the Earth is around 1802 miles (2900km) thick... so when I say it's hard, yeah it's near impossible. On the other side, the intense pressure and heat in the upper mantle transforms carbon deposits into diamonds, so when Goldschmidtite was discovered, it gave the team a discovery of something new bubbling beneath the surface of our pale blue dot of a planet.
Graham Pearson, co-supervisor of the team, explained: "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".
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