Scientists discover 'quadrillion tons of diamond' beneath Earth's surface

Scientists just found £150,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of diamonds on Earth

The ultra-deep cache is scattered throughout the cratonic roots, which make up around two per cent of the ancient rock formations.

The diamonds, however, are impossible to mine - they're 90 to 150 miles below the Earth's surface, far deeper than any drills are capable of reaching.

'This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it's relatively common, ' says Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Because we can't just go look at the 100-miles-deep cratons ourselves (the deepest hole we've ever dug didn't even get a tenth of the way), the researchers built a virtual mantle using a computer algorithm and played around with different compositions until they found one that matched up with what they were observing.

Cratons are the oldest sections of rock beneath that usually lie beneath continental tectonic plates, and their roots - shaped like inverted mountains - stretch up to 200 miles beneath the Earth's surface.

Earth's interior is dark, but filled with diamonds.

Faul and his partners achieved their result following to pondering about a variation from the norm in seismic data. For the past few decades, agencies such as the United States Geological Survey have kept global records of seismic activity - essentially, sound waves traveling through the Earth that are triggered by earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions, and other ground-shaking sources. Sound waves move at various speeds through the Earth, depending on the temperature, density, and composition of the rocks through which they travel.

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By understanding the relationship between the detected sound waves and how certain rocks absorb sound waves, scientists can piece together what rocks are likely to be where beneath the surface.

Using sound waves, scientists uncovered a cache of diamonds distributed deep below the Earth's surface, and it amounts to over a quadrillion tons of the precious mineral (you read that right). Seismic collectors around the world get sound waves from these sources, at various rates and powers, which seismologists will study to find out when the quake started, and where. Geologists call their most significant territories as "roots".

'The velocities that are measured are faster than what we think we can reproduce with reasonable assumptions about what is there, ' Mr Faul says.

They created a three-dimensional model of the velocities of seismic waves that traveled through the planet's major cratons.

A study published Monday estimates the composition of deep rock layers known as cratons and concludes that they may be far more glittery than previously suspected.

Cratons are naturally less dense than the surrounding rock, and the presence of the diamond does not change that.

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