Did Diamonds Begin on the Ancient Ocean Floor?

Posted: April 18, 2013

By: Mark Witten [Phys Org]

"A diamond is a time capsule. Anomalies in the chemical signature are the key to understanding the unusual conditions under which some diamonds were formed," says Schulze, an earth sciences professor in the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences at U of T Mississauga.

Led by Schulze, an international team of scientists from Australia, Scotland, the United States and Venezuela discovered persuasive new evidence to support the idea that some diamonds, like Picasso, were formed from bacteria or algae on the ancient ocean floor. Their findings suggest these diamonds, known as eclogitic diamonds, originated as organic matter on the ancient sea floor, which was thrust down into the Earth's mantle by a geological process known as subduction. Attached to ocean floor rock deep beneath the surface, the organic carbon remnants were then transformed by extreme heat and pressure into diamonds.

The research is published in the April 2 issue of Geology.

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