In the enigmatic world of geology, the rare and coveted pink diamond has long held a tantalizing allure. Most of these precious gemstones, which can fetch tens of millions of dollars when polished and of the highest grade, were sourced from a now-closed mine in Australia, which accounted for a staggering 90% of the global supply. However, a recent discovery in the same region could potentially reveal new deposits of these precious jewels, according to researchers.
Scientists studying the Argyle diamond deposit in Western Australia, where the famed mine was located, have gained a deeper understanding of the geological conditions necessary for the formation of pink diamonds and other color varieties. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveal that the pink diamond-rich site was formed during the breakup of an ancient supercontinent, Nuna, about 1.3 billion years ago. This discovery could have significant implications for the future exploration and potential discovery of pink diamond deposits.
Unearthing the Mystery of Pink Diamonds
Pink diamonds, known for their rarity and high value, could become less elusive thanks to recent research conducted in Western Australia. A new study from the Argyle diamond deposit, where a now-closed mine supplied 90% of the pink diamonds in the world, has shed light on the geological conditions necessary for the formation of these precious stones.
A Deeper Understanding of Diamond Formation
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, utilized laser analysis of minerals and rocks from the Argyle deposit. The researchers determined that the area, rich in pink diamonds, was formed 1.3 billion years ago during the breakup of an ancient supercontinent, Nuna. Lead study author Dr. Hugo Olierook, a research fellow at Curtin University’s John de Laeter Centre in Perth, explained that this geological event created gaps in the Earth’s crust, allowing magma to reach the surface along with the prized pink diamonds.
The Journey of Pink Diamonds
Typically, diamond deposits are found within volcanic rocks that rapidly transport diamonds from deep within the Earth’s crust to the surface. However, pink and red diamonds require a specific set of circumstances for their formation. These diamonds are subject to intense forces from colliding tectonic plates, which twist and bend their crystal lattices, similar to the process that forms most brown diamonds.
Researchers found that this process occurred around 1.8 billion years ago when Western Australia and Northern Australia collided. This collision transformed colorless diamonds into pink gems hundreds of miles below Earth’s crust. As the ancient supercontinent Nuna disintegrated 1.3 billion years ago, these colored diamonds found their way to the surface.
Implications for Future Diamond Exploration
The study suggests that the junctures of ancient continents could be significant in finding pink diamond deposits. Olierook stated that most diamond deposits are located in the center of ancient continents, as their host volcanoes are often exposed at the surface, making them easy to find. In contrast, Argyle is situated at the suture of two of these ancient continents, often concealed by sand and soil. This suggests that similar pink diamond-bearing volcanoes may still be waiting to be discovered.
This research not only sheds light on the unique geological conditions that create pink diamonds, but also paves the way for future exploration efforts. As scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of our planet’s formation and history, we are reminded of the immense processes at work beneath the Earth’s surface. This study underscores the exciting potential for discovery that remains, even in areas thought to be well-explored. It’s a reminder that there is always more to learn, more to discover, and more treasures to unearth.