Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Diamonds Made Of "Stardust," UMass Geoscientist Suggests

Date:
August 6, 1999
Source:
University Of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
In the Aug. 6 issue of the journal Science, University of Massachusetts geoscientist Stephen Haggerty contends that some of the carbon in diamonds comes from outer space. Haggerty argues against the long-held view that the carbon in diamond comes from the remains of plants and marine organisms as they decayed under the high temperatures and pressures of the Earth’s deep interior.

Overview of research casts doubt on previous theory

AMHERST, Mass. -- In the Aug. 6 issue of the journal Science, University of Massachusetts geoscientist Stephen Haggerty contends that some of the carbon in diamonds comes from outer space.

Haggerty argues against the long-held view that the carbon in diamond comes from the remains of plants and marine organisms as they decayed under the high temperatures and pressures of the Earth’s deep interior. The invited review is titled, "A Diamond Trilogy: Superplumes, Supercontinents, and Supernovae."

Many in the scientific community have long theorized that diamonds are primarily the result of organic materials that were dragged into the Earth’s interior as one continental plate was thrust beneath another in a process called subduction. This theory holds that the organic material, when exposed to the extreme heat and pressure within the Earth for millions of years, produced the carbon in diamonds. But the fossil record, and the dating of diamonds, indicate that this carbon is at least three billion years older than animal and plant life.

Haggerty suspects that some of the carbon in these diamonds was in fact produced in supernovae: the explosions of dying stars. The carbon was incorporated into our solar system, where it is the fourth most abundant element. This carbon, plus some that was brought to Earth on meteorites, may well be the source of diamonds, Haggerty says. The study of diamond has seen a recent burst of activity as new research methods have become available. The new theory is based on an evaluation of this scientific literature, he notes.

Evidence lending weight to the "stardust" theory includes the antiquity of the diamonds, and the similarity of carbon isotopic ratios to those found in meteorites, Haggerty says. Also, the bulk composition of the Earth is chondritic; that is, similar to a class of meteorites called chondrites. Chondrites contain several forms of carbon, including diamonds older than our sun. "Because the early Earth was bombarded by meteorites," he says, "it is reasonable to conclude that the carbon in diamonds on the Earth is primordial."

Scientists have shown that most diamonds are brought from the Earth’s interior to its surface by volcanoes. But the volcanoes that bring forth these precious stones are much younger than the diamonds themselves, according to Haggerty. "This combination of old diamonds and young volcanoes indicates that the diamonds were already formed when magma brought them to the surface."

Additionally, there were two geologically short time periods during which hundreds of diamond-producing volcanoes erupted all over the Earth. One group erupted about one billion years ago, and the other 100 million years ago. Haggerty suggests that the eruptions were the result of the "blooming" of molten plumes from the Earth’s core. The volcanoes occurred randomly around the planet, rather than along continental plate boundaries, lending support to the model of deep primary carbon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Massachusetts Amherst. "Diamonds Made Of "Stardust," UMass Geoscientist Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990806075540.htm>.
University Of Massachusetts Amherst. (1999, August 6). Diamonds Made Of "Stardust," UMass Geoscientist Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990806075540.htm
University Of Massachusetts Amherst. "Diamonds Made Of "Stardust," UMass Geoscientist Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990806075540.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Reuters - US Online Video (July 26, 2014) A giant wall of dust slowly moves north over the Phoenix area after a summer monsoon thunderstorm. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Lemur Among Baby Animals Debuted at Cleveland Zoo

Rare Lemur Among Baby Animals Debuted at Cleveland Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (July 26, 2014) A rare baby Lemur is among several baby animals getting their public debut at a Cleveland zoo. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins