Can carbon from living things turn into diamonds?

Researchers have found that a very rare type of diamond was formed from carbon present in organisms that lived more than 400 kilometers below the surface. This origin is different from what is known about the formation of these glowing crystals, which, roughly speaking, are pieces of carbon subjected to enormous pressure.

There are three main types of diamonds in nature, lithospheric diamonds, which form in the earth’s lithosphere at a depth of 150 to 250 kilometers, which are the most common diamonds. Far more rare are oceanic diamonds, found in rocks in the oceans, and super-deep continental ones, found between 300 and 1,000 kilometers below the surface.


We went to the top rather than the bottom

For the sake of comparison, Jeff Bezos’s journey into space was characterized by an ascent to 100 kilometers above sea level. The International Space Station orbits about 400 kilometers above the Earth. The pre-salt oil, on the other hand, is located between four and six kilometers from the surface of the part of the Atlantic that extends between the coast of Santa Catarina and the coast of Ceará.

This means that oceanic and super-deep continental diamonds are quite different from those found in jewelry stores. One of the main differences is in the variation in the signature of an isotope called carbon thirteen, which can be used to determine whether the carbon is of organic or inorganic origin.

continental organic carbon

A volcano erupting
Diamonds from deep places on the continent are spit to the surface through volcanic eruptions. Credit: Wikilmages/Pixabay

Based on this signature, other groups of researchers had already suggested that the original formation of oceanic diamonds took place from the organic carbon that existed in living beings. On the other hand, because of the variable amount of carbon thirteen, it is more difficult to say whether they are made from carbon present in living things.

However, this new research, led by geologist Luc Doucet of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, has found that the cores of super-deep continental diamonds have a composition very similar to that of oceanic ones. This means that these crystals also formed from creatures that were once living beings.

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According to Doucet, the discovery gives new meaning to the saying “from garbage to luxury”, and the research helped to discover that the Earth has mechanisms to transform the carbon of living beings into diamonds, a few hundred kilometers below the Earth’s surface . According to him, these diamonds are brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions.

Via: Science Alert

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