PERTH, Australia – A slumbering mine in Western Australia was once known to be the birthplace of a whopping 90% of the world’s pink diamonds. Renowned for their rarity and exquisiteness, these high-grade gemstones often fetched millions of dollars at auctions. Recent discoveries around that same mine may unravel fresh sources of these precious gems, believe experts in the field.
An in-depth study of the Western Australia’s Argyle diamond site, previously home to the prolific diamond mine, has ignited fresh insights into the exact geological conditions that facilitate the formation of colored diamonds. The research, published this Tuesday in the scientific journal Nature Communications, unveiled some surprising revelations.
Experts utilized laser technology to scrutinize minerals and rocks sourced from the Argyle deposit. Upon doing so, they detected the sizable presence of pink diamonds formed nearly 1.3 billion years ago during the disintegration of an erstwhile supercontinent, known as Nuna.
Dr. Hugo Olierook, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at Curtin University’s John de Laeter Centre, elaborated on the discovery. “When stretch marks manifested across the future Australian continent (including the Argyle site) due to the split, faults in the Earth’s crust provided pathways for magma to ascend to the surface, carrying pink diamonds along with it,” he stated.
Most diamond deposits are unearthed in the heart of age-old continents, lodged within volcanic rocks that rapidly funnel diamonds from the inner confines of the Earth up to the surface. However, for diamonds to transition into pink or red hues, they require exposure to extreme forces elicited by colliding tectonic plates, which then agitate their crystal lattices.
A notable collision between Western Australia and Northern Australia around 1.8 billion years ago seems to be the catalyst turning uncolored diamonds into pink ones, deep below the Earth’s surface. The process which drove these colored diamonds to the surface is linked to an event about 1.3 billion years ago when Nuna began to shatter, according to the study.
The research team deduced that the shattering of the supercontinent possibly resurrected the old boundary left behind by the collision of the continents, allowing diamond-laden rocks to traverse this region and form the vast diamond deposit. This discovery suggests that the junctions of ancient continents could be critical in unearthing pink diamonds, consequently directing future explorations for more deposits.
Dr.Olierook noted, “Argyle is situated at the seam of two of these ancient landmasses, and these edges are often camouflaged by sand and soil which suggests similar pink diamond-carrying volcanoes may remain undiscovered, possibly even in Australia.”