Rare and unseen the mineral was found inside of the diamond

This diamond contains the first evidence of calcium silicate perovskite found in nature. Credit Nester Korolev UBC

This diamond contains the first evidence of calcium silicate perovskite found in nature. Credit Nester Korolev UBC

While rare to human eyes, calcium silicate perovskite may be shockingly ordinary deep inside the Earth - in fact, it's thought to be the fourth most abundant mineral inside the planet, especially prevalent in slabs of oceanic crust that have plunged into the planet's mantle at tectonic boundaries.

There are actually multiple forms of water ice that form under different pressures and temperature conditions, and this new form of ice is far from the only different setup we've discovered thus far. As the diamond was pushed to the surface, it would have cooled while still under pressure, and the ice VII formed within.

Scientists believe that ice-VII may be found in great abundance in the solar system, perhaps in the interior of ice moons like Enceladus and Europa, or as part of the ocean floor of Titan.

It is found deep within the Earth's mantle and is known to be too unstable to exist on the surface. They published the results of this analysis in the journal Nature.

Researchers said that the presence of ice inside the diamonds suggests that pockets of watery fluids exist deep in the mantle, the Earth's layer that is sandwiched between the crust and the core and is made up mostly of solid and very hot rock under enormous pressure. The mantle extends from about 35 kilometers below the surface for another 2,850 kilometers or so.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains nearly constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand", Tschauner said.

Found in abundance deep in the Earth, at about 700 km from the surface, it has never been seen on the surface.


"Usually the extremely deep minerals that come up to the surface are not stable once they experience low pressures", Rossman said.

The recent discovery of ice crystals in diamonds, depicted as Ice-VII, is the evidence that, despite old theories, there is water deep in the Earth's mantle and that there is a water cycle on the Earth that also involves its deepest undergrounds.

An earlier study, from December 2016, looked at fragments of some of the world's largest precious stones (the flakes are produced when rough stones are cut and polished) and based on the minerals trapped in them, concluded that they formed at depths corresponding to the deep mantle.

"[The diamond] provides a unique window to allow us to see these unique pieces of material from that depth". "Now that we have the techniques to analyze these inclusions in diamonds, I think there will be much more coming out in the future", said Oliver Tschauner, a UNLV geoscientist. Ice-VII is unique in that it remains fairly stable even as the pressure continues to increase.

How did the water in the diamonds freeze?

Thanks to their discovery, ice-VII has been recognised for the first time as a mineral by the International Mineralogical Association.

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