Las Vegas—Inclusions are important not only in the study of their host gemstones but also for other scientific disciplines, and one recent discovery shows how much scientists rely on these imperfections to further their understanding.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas said in a statement that its geochemists recently discovered a mineral never observed in nature thanks to a diamond that carried it to the surface.
The mineral—a calcium silicate perovskite dubbed “davemaoite”—was found trapped in a diamond and traveled up to the Earth’s surface from at least 410 miles deep in the lower mantle, located between the planet’s core and crust.
The mineral was theorized to exist but hadn’t ever been observed before since many lower-mantle minerals can only exist in a high-pressure environment; they “fall apart” before reaching the surface, UNLV said.
The strength of its host diamond—a greenish, octahedral-shaped stone—allowed the davemaoite to survive and make it to the top, where UNLV’s geochemists could study it.
UNLV mineralogist Oliver Tschauner, who studies “super-deep diamonds” to see what they can teach us about the Earth’s interior and led the study published in Science this month, believes davemaoite formed between 410 and 560 miles below the Earth’s surface.
The recently discovered specimen appears as “infinitesimal small dark specks” in the diamond, where it was secure.
But, “When we broke open the diamond, the [mineral] stayed intact for about a second, then we saw it expand and bulge under the microscope and basically turn into glass,” Tschauner is quoted as saying in New Scientist.