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 September 3, 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 September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP oil spill could be a way to diminish years of costly litigation. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
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