Ice crystals in diamonds reveal water may exist deep in mantle
Scientists discovered some ice in some ice.
EARTH — Scientists analyzing diamonds have found that small pockets of water may exist deep in the Earth's mantle.
Geologists unearthed impure diamonds from mines in southern Africa, Zaire, Sierra Leone and China, according to a report published in the journal Science.
The diamonds were then sent to the Argonne National Lab in Illinois for analysis in the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron particle accelerator.
Mineralogist Oliver Tschauner from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and his colleagues found more than a dozen diamonds with a distinct form of crystallized water known as ice VII.
Ice VII has been studied in labs, but these samples are the first known natural samples. Because of the team's discovery, ice VII has been classified as a new mineral.
The ice crystals suggest pockets of watery fluid may be present deep in the Earth's mantle, despite the high temperatures.
The scientists estimated the diamonds were formed at depths between 610 and 800 kilometers below the Earth's surface.
Researchers were unable to determine the exact location of the pockets or how common they could be.
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