Rare Crystallized Water is Discovered Inside a Super-Deep Diamond

Saturday, 10 March 2018 - 10:44AM
Earth
Saturday, 10 March 2018 - 10:44AM
Rare Crystallized Water is Discovered Inside a Super-Deep Diamond
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A few days ago, diamonds made headlines when a "super-deep" diamond was found containing traces of a previously unseen mineral. That was only the first big story about diamonds this week.

In an interesting coincidence, yet another big discovery has just been made and it once again took place inside a rough diamond time capsule. According to a new paper published in Science, a team of researchers uncovered super-deep diamonds - which are formed from 125 - 620 miles (200 - 1,000 kilometers) beneath the Earth's surface - contained a superdense form of water in a crystallized state.




This form of high pressure water is called ice-VII, and it's about 60% more dense than normal water and completely solid at room temperature. It's also extremely rare, having been created in laboratories before but never seen out in nature. It's thought to exist on other planets with very different amounts of pressure, but nobody expected ice-VII to be found naturally on Earth.

Much like that recent story involving diamonds, the ice-VII was first formed hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's surface. What likely happened was that normal, liquid water entered the forming diamond at these depths, and as the gem rose to the surface, the water reacted to the intense change in pressure by turning itself into ice-VII. 

It's intense pressure changes like this that scientists use to convert water into ice-VII in laboratories, so it makes sense that this process could happen naturally at such extreme depths. We just hadn't seen it done; there's still a lot we don't know about the depths of Earth's mantle, with the deepest hole ever dug being the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, which is 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) deep. 



Due to the nature of how and where they form, diamonds can be fascinating containers protecting discoveries from deep beneath the Earth. So while diamonds aren't typically mined for scientific purposes, they can be useful in lots of other ways beyond simply being shiny.

Although the diamonds in your jewelry probably don't contain ice-VII inside them. Those ones are just shiny.
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