Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Everlasting Gems

Zircon crystals from the Natural History Museum. Diamonds more than 4 billion years old, nearly as old as Earth, have been found in zircon crystals recently uncovered in Western Australia.

FACTS ON DIAMONDS - What we know about them as of now:

* The Earth is thought to have formed 4.5 billion years ago. There would have been a huge amount of heat, explosions and violent activity as the Earth's crust and mantle was created. Any rock or mineral from around this time would need to be very tough to exist unchanged today.

* Zircon - A mineral whose crystals are extremely tough and relatively resistant to melting, so it is likely to hold clues about how the Earth's crust was made.

* Diamonds in Zircon crystals - through further analysis of these crystals, small diamonds were found in them dated over four billion years ago. This is nearly a billion years older than the previous oldest diamonds on Earth and only 300 million years away from the time when the Earth formed.

* New Findings - The research also suggests that the Earth cooled much more quickly than previously thought with the continental crust and oceans forming as early as 4.4 billion years ago.

* Not the Oldest Ones Though - But these diamonds aren't the oldest known. Sara Russell, meteorite and cosmochemistry expert at the Natural History Museum, explains, 'Although the Jack Hills diamonds are the oldest ones known to have formed on Earth, in our collections at the Museum we have meteorites that host diamonds predating even the formation of the Earth.'

Diamonds really are forever. Their resilience to chemical and physical processes means that they have an amazing capacity to survive and tell us about very early events. What fascinating traits of these everlasting gems! Not only are they beautiful and glamorous adornments, pricey at that, but they also give us facts about the Earth's history, which is very useful for our knowledge and understanding on how our planet came to be.


--My Life Is Beautiful

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