Diamonds are not as uncommon as previously thought, according to new research, but that won’t mean you’ll get a deal on jewelry anytime soon.
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Johns Hopkins University say diamond formation is likely to take place much more in the “very deep Earth.”
Before you imagine deep veins of flawless diamonds, researchers say you would need a microscope to see deep Earth diamonds, as they measure just a few microns across.
Prior to the study, researchers thought diamonds formed in one of two possible ways, through the oxidation of methane or via the chemical reduction of carbon dioxide within moving fluids, both needing a specific and rare set of circumstances to occur.
This study proposes a more simple path toward diamond formation involving increasingly acidic water reacting with rock.
"The more people look, the more they're finding diamonds in different rock types now," said study author Dimitri Sverjensky, a geochemist at John Hopkins. "I think everybody would agree there's more and more environments of diamond formation being discovered."
So while the research won’t create a glut of diamonds, it does allow for a greater understanding of fluid movement deep inside the Earth. That, in turn, helps to better understand the carbon cycle upon which life revolves.
“Fluids are the key link between the shallow and the deep Earth,” Sverjensky said. “That’s why it’s important.”