Friday, 20 December 2013

Antarctica May Have A New Type of ice: Diamonds

(Reuters) - A kind of rock that often contains diamonds has been found in Antarctica for the first time, hinting at mineral riches in the vast, icy continent -- where mining is banned.

No diamonds were found, but researchers said they were confident the gems were there.
A 1991 environmental accord banned mining for at least 50 years under the Antarctic May Have Treaty that preserves the continent for scientific research and wildlife, from penguins to seals.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, an Australian-led team reported East Antarctic deposits of kimberlite, a rare type of rock named after the South African town of Kimberley famed for a late 19th century diamond rush.

"These rocks represent the first reported occurrence of genuine kimberlite in Antarctica," they wrote of the finds around Mount Meredith in the Prince Charles Mountains.

Diamonds are formed under immense heat and pressure around 160 kilometers below ground in the molten rock of Earth’s mantle. Millions of years later, they are brought to the surface in powerful eruptions and preserved in the distinctive igneous rock formations called kimberlites.

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