Under the continental plates are 1000 trillion tons of diamonds

A model poses with two white diamonds each over 50 carats

A team led by a researcher from the University of California, Santa Barbara looked at the way seismic waves travel through Earth's depths, and found that they were moving faster than expected.

Unfortunately for diamond hunters, the minerals are buried more than 160km (100 miles) beneath the Earth's surface - far deeper than any human drills have ever reached.

Dr Ulrich Faul, a research scientist at MIT, explained that one of diamond's many special properties is the speed at which sound waves travel through the material.

Researchers noted that though sound waves pass a bit more quickly in cratons versus the denser, hotter mantle, data shows faster speeds than expected.

The new study suggests that up to 2% of these roots may be composed of diamond, which they say would mean there could be about a quadrillion tons (that's 15 zeroes) of diamond scattered up to 150 miles below the surface.

For the past decades, geological agencies around the world 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.

Because they couldn't actually dig down and bring back a sample of the cratonic rock, the researchers used sound waves to arrive at their diamond-content estimate. But did you know that they also use it to show from what are made the deepest parts of the planet?

'We can't get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before'.

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Cratons are stable parts in the crust and mantle of the Earth that are usually less dense and colder than the parts surrounding them.

Next, Faul and others, who in the past have measured sound speeds through many different types of minerals in the laboratory, used this knowledge to assemble virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals. Only one virtual rock matched, containing peridotite, small amounts of eclogite from the oceanic crust, and 1 percent to 2 percent of diamond. The number they came up with: 1016 tons of diamond, or over 1,000 times more than previously thought.

To estimate the total mass of diamonds in the Earth, the researchers assumed cratonic roots contained 1-2% diamond and combined that with the total volume of cratonic roots distributed throughout the Earth.

The diamonds are located in underground rock formations called cratons.

"They are like pieces of wood, floating on water", Dr. Faul said.

Diamonds are formed under extremely high-temperature and high-pressure conditions found below Earth's crust. This is how they preserve the oldest rocks.

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



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