In fact, what workers at Alrosa ‘s Udachnaya diamond mine had unearthed was a 30mm rock that contained 30,000 diamonds – a conentration 1m times higher than normal.
However, despite the rare find the company donated the rock to the Russian Academy of Sciences, as the diamonds are so small that they cannot be used as gems.
After scanning the rock with X-rays, scientists found that the diamonds inside measure just 1mm and are octahedral in shape – similar to two pyramids stuck together at the base. The red and green colouring comes from larger crystals of garnet, olivine and pyroxene.
“The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond,” said Larry Taylor, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, who presented the findings at the American Geophysical Union ‘s annual meeting. “It’s like they formed instantaneously. This rock is a strange one indeed.”
Scientists are excited at the finding as they hope it will shed further light on how diamonds are made. They know diamonds are crystals of pure carbon that form under crushing pressures and intense heat, mostly formed in the Earth’s mantle, the layer beneath the crust or surface layer, at a depth of about 150km. However, certain processes in their creation remain a mystery.