New technology may help detect new diamond deposits

According to study, there may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamonds hidden inside the earth

Gabriel Moura

Russian scientists have reported that they have created a new technology that will help detect kimberlite fields by seismic waves. The new technology will be field tested in March 2019.

Senior geophysicist from the ALROSA geophysical exploration program, Evgeniy Goncharov, explained how the new technology could help discover diamonds. “Seismic waves passing through different types of rocks change their property, which will help us determine kimberlite pipes. In order to create a 3D map of the underground area, it is important to take measurements at different depths, so the detectors will move through the holes in 2-4 meter steps, ”he said.

According to the report, two holes up to 130 meters deep must be drilled in order to use the technology. They must be at least 250 meters away from each other. Then the emitter is placed in one of them, producing seismic waves and in the other hole there is a detector that records the activity of the waves.

These waves move at a different speed across different rock types and can cover a distance of up to 250 meters. The data received can be used to determine which rock type is most likely a kimberlite. However, this technology requires a lot of funding and that is why most mining companies prefer to focus on the well-known diamond deposits.

Last year, scientists said there could be more than a quadrillion tons of diamonds hidden inside the earth, according to a new study by MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to trigger a diamond rush. Scientists estimate that the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, much deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.

The diamond may be scattered in cratonic roots – the oldest and most immovable parts of the rock that lie below the center of most continental tectonic plates. In the form of inverted mountains, cratons can extend up to 320 kilometers across the earth’s crust and enter its mantle; geologists refer to their deepest sections as “roots.”

In the new study, scientists estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamond. Considering the total volume of cratonic roots on Earth, the team estimates that about one quadrillion (10 16) tons of diamonds are scattered within these ancient rocks, 90 to 150 miles below the surface. “This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it is relatively common,” says Ulrich Faul, a researcher at MIT’s Department of Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “We can’t get to them, but still, there’s a lot more diamond than we ever thought before.”