This picture shows the Hope Diamond, a blue diamond, surrounded by other white diamonds.
Click on image for full size
Diamonds are Ancient History!
News story originally written on September 12, 2002
Diamonds are the hardest substance known on Earth. They make sparkling jewelry as well as saw blades that can cut through pretty much anything. Diamonds form deep within the Earth's mantle layer from the element carbon that is under huge amounts of pressure from the load of rocks above.
Recently, scientists studying diamonds have found the ages of thousands of diamonds from Southern Africa, where most diamonds are found. They discovered that there were only three times during Earth’s history when diamonds were made and that Earth no longer makes diamonds like it used to. “Something was different then. Perhaps the planet was hotter on the inside, or the composition of the rocks was subtly different. Whatever it was it has changed now,” stated Steve Shirey, one of the project scientists.
The oldest diamonds were made 3.3 billion years ago when Earth was rather young. The second time diamonds were made was 2.9 billion years ago. The scientists think that these diamonds were probably formed from rocks that lay at the bottom of a shallow sea. The carbon that made these diamonds probably came from ancient sea life. The youngest diamonds on Earth are 1.2 billion years old although a few smaller diamonds are about 100 million years old.
Some people like diamonds because they are pretty, rare, or expensive but Dr. Steve Shirey has a different view. “I think of diamonds,” he said, “as being tiny time capsules that encase a little piece of rock protecting it for billions of years and providing us with a unique window on ancient times.”
Last modified September 12, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible at the same time in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see. You won't want to miss this!...more