If you’ve got at any time read the slogan “A Diamond Is For good,” then a 1940s marketing campaign is nevertheless performing its work. The line was coined by De Beers Team, a jewellery enterprise credited with virtually single-handedly popularizing diamond engagement rings.
De Beers spent a long time constructing a international empire (some would get in touch with it a “cartel”) all-around diamond mines in nations like South Africa.
So why did they purchase more than 3,000 square miles, or 7,770 sq. kilometers, of Atlantic seafloor close to the coastline of Namibia in 1991?
Easy: Not all diamonds are uncovered on dry land. Many loose diamonds you see in jewellery stores are actually found on the ocean floor. However, they do not form there, they still form underground in the earth’s mantle layer. You just have to know exactly where to appear.
Time and Strain
Carbon is a splendidly versatile ingredient uncovered in Earth’s ambiance and all living points (that we know of). It’s also nicely-represented in jewelry retailers.
Diamonds are produced of carbon atoms that’ve been subjected to incredibly significant temperatures and pressures. The crystals typically have 8 sides, but 6- and twelve-sided specimens are out there, way too.
Within a diamond, every single person carbon atom shares a solid bond with 4 other folks, which makes diamonds ridiculously difficult. Rub just one of these gems in opposition to virtually any other identified mineral and it will go away a scratch mark behind.
Asteroids can make the intensive warmth and strain needed to make diamonds when they strike the confront of our planet. These types of “affect diamonds” are really scarce, however. And they are likely to be modest.
You are way more probable to discover a diamond from deep in the Earth, cast somewhere in the ballpark of 87 and 497 miles (140 to 800 kilometers) less than the surface. And the ocean may possibly have performed an underappreciated job in the history of our world’s diamond source, as effectively.
Numerous diamonds incorporate compact portions of salt. For decades, geologists questioned if this at first came from seawater.
A 2019 review bolstered the hypothesis. It turns out that when a mix of marine sediments and the volcanic rock peridotite practical experience high warmth and huge pressure in a laboratory location, you get a little something that appears an dreadful ton like the salts trapped inside some diamonds.
What’s this indicate for the authentic environment? According to the paper’s authors, their experiment indicates most diamonds occur into remaining soon after chunks of seafloor are dragged into Earth’s mantle by way of plate tectonics.
Some of the minerals taken from the ocean for the duration of this approach crystallize into gems. Volcanic eruptions later carry the diamonds up to the planet’s surface — or rather close to it.
Now, the analyze stated higher than would not explain why De Beers and other teams are searching for diamonds off the African coast.
Those stones have been carried out to sea by river currents. Namibia’s southern border is defined by the mighty Orange River. For hundreds of thousands of many years, it is been grabbing ahold of diamonds from mainland deposits and relocating them elsewhere on the continent.
Only in some cases, this river ferries the treasured jewels all the way out to the ocean.
Since the 1960s, treasure seekers have been dredging up diamonds by the coastlines of northwestern South Africa and southern Namibia. In 2018, virtually 75 % of the latter country’s full diamond output arrived from ocean-centered mining operations.
De Beers emerged as an business chief (go figure) again in the 1970s. “We function a fleet of six motor vessels (mv) able of exploring for and retrieving diamond-bearing elements from the seabed and processing them to a diamond-loaded concentrate,” studies the firm’s web site.
Below the Sea
Most of these gems are harvested at depths of 394 to 460 toes (120 to 140 meters) underneath sea level.
Sediments from the ocean floor are sucked up into a remote-controlled “crawler” vehicle that scuttles throughout the seabed. Equipped with a mechanical arm, it sends diamond-laden payloads to the key vessel up higher than, in which equipment individual out the jewels.
Drones and two man or woman submarines have both of those been used to assist these ships obtain diamond-wealthy localities beneath the waves.
Regretably, dredging strategies can have lengthy-phrase outcomes for aquatic wildlife.
As ecologist Kirsten Thompson informed CNN in 2018, “[the] waters off coastline of Namibia are an important space for a superior range of resident and migratory species, such as sharks, whales, dolphins and seals…. Marine mining removes components of the seabed with hefty equipment and habitat recovery from this kind of disturbance can get many years.”
Collecting these “ocean diamonds” by hand, with employed divers in modest boats, is an additional possibility which is been executed in modern several years.