News / Science & Technology

Antarctica Ice Might Include Diamonds

(File) The Sheldon Glacier with Mount Barre in the background, is seen from Ryder Bay near Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica, in this (NASA/British Antarctic Survey).
(File) The Sheldon Glacier with Mount Barre in the background, is seen from Ryder Bay near Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica, in this (NASA/British Antarctic Survey).
Reuters
— A type of rock that often bears diamonds has been found in Antarctica for the first time in a hint of mineral riches in the vast, icy continent that is off limits to mining, scientists said on Tuesday.
 
A 1991 environmental accord banned mining for at least 50 years under the Antarctic Treaty that preserves the continent for scientific research and wildlife, from penguins to seals.
 
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, an Australian-led team reported East Antarctic deposits of kimberlite, a rare type of rock named after the South African town of Kimberley famed for a late 19th century diamond rush.
 
“These rocks represent the first reported occurrence of genuine kimberlite in Antarctica,” they wrote of the finds around Mount Meredith in the Prince Charles Mountains.
 
No diamonds were found during the geological work that is allowed on the continent. Kimberlite, a volcanic rock from deep below the Earth's surface, has now been discovered on all continents.
 
Geologists doubted the find could be commercial, largely due to Antarctica's remoteness, cold and winter darkness. Teal Riley of the British Antarctic Survey said less than 10 percent of deposits of similar kimberlite were economically viable.
 
“It's a big leap from here to mining,” he told Reuters. Minerals including platinum, gold, copper, iron and coal have previously been found in Antarctica.
 
Extended ban

The Antarctic Treaty is binding only on its 50 signatories but has the backing of major powers, including the United States and China. Many expect the ban on mining to be extended in 2041.
 
“There is likely to be little opposition to an extension of this prohibition, despite the potential discovery of a new type of Antarctic 'ice',” Nature Communications said in a statement.
 
Another expert said it was unclear.
 
“We do not know what the Treaty Parties' views will be on mining after 2041 or what technologies might exist that could make extraction of Antarctic minerals economically viable,” said Kevin Hughes, of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
 
Riley said there was a fine line between geological mapping and prospecting with an eye to mining. Nations including Russia, Ukraine and China have been more active in surveying Antarctica in recent years.
 
The kimberlite deposit is also confirmation of how continents drift. The region of East Antarctica was once part of a continent known as Gondwana connected to what is now Africa and India, which also have kimberlite

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid