What is a Diamond Stone? – Marilyn’s Rock
Remember the famous 1949 song made famous by the late and great Marilyn Monroe, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The association between her and a Diamond showcasing the glamour, the beauty, the sparkle, the elegance, and the fame. But why is this Diamond stone so famous and posses the power to have the entire world under her spell? What is she made of? What is a Diamond stone?
A Diamond Stone is a crystalline mineral made of carbon and forms in a cubic crystal system
Diamonds contain many covalent bonds with each carbon atom chemically bonding to four other carbon atoms in a triangular pyramid (tetrahedron). This makes a Diamond so incredibly strong. A Diamond’s extremely high melting point >3500 °C / 6332 °F is the result of covalent bonding.
Diamond is technically an allotrope of carbon and is the hardest naturally occurring material found on the planet.
Graphite is also an allotrope of carbon but has a different bonding arrangement between atoms.
ALLOTROPES OF CARBON
the closest natural material to a diamond
D) C60 (Buckminsterfullerene)
E) C540 (Fullerene)
F) C70 (Fullerene)
G) AMORPHOUS CARBON
H) SINGLE – WALLED CARBON NANOTUBE
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on our planet. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t break because hardness is only a measurement to identify a mineral’s resistance to scratching.
In 1812 the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness was created by a Geman geologist by the name of Friedrich Mohs. Mohs compared the hardness of minerals and the ability of one mineral to visibly scratch another.
The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness comprises ten minerals with talc being the softest and Diamond the hardest. The Mohs Scale only goes to (10), so please bear in mind that Diamonds are far harder than their nearest rival which is corundum at (9). However to give you a better perception of how hard a Diamond really is, if it the scale went to 40 then a Diamond would be 40 and its next nearest rival corundum remaining at 9.
The order of the Mohs Scale from softest to hardest:
- (1) Talc
- (2) Gypsum
- (3) Calcite
- (4) Fluorite
- (5) Apatite
- (6) Orthoclase
- (7) Quartz
- (8) Topaz
- (9) Corundum
- (10) Diamond
Violent Volcanic Eruptions
Diamonds deposit on the Earth’s surface as a result of deep-sourced volcanic eruptions pushing Magma (molten rock) upwards through volcanic pipes (kimberlite and lamproite). These violent volcanic eruptions occur at depths twice as deep as your average volcano and originate approximately 150 km or 90 miles down in the Earth’s mantle. Diamond travels at speeds exceeding 800 km an hour, along with other volatile compounds, and deposit onto the surface of the Earth within a magmatic rock called kimberlite.
A Diamond is a xenocryst which is a crystal inclusion within an igneous rock.
Diamond formation requires the presence of extreme heat >1400 °C / 2552 °F, and an enormous amount of pressure exceeding speeds of 800 km an hour (500 mph) through volcanic pipes to reach the Earth’s surface. The speed of the upwards propulsion is what determines whether it is Diamond or graphite.
Kimberlite ore (magmatic rock), deposits in depths of at least 15 m, or 49 ft underground, from the result of these violent volcanic eruptions and the only way to remove the ore, is by digging.
So when it comes to mining for deposits of commercially useful Diamonds, near the Earth’s surface, Open-Cut Mining is the preferred method of extraction.
Natural and artificial features of a geographical area determine the size and shape of an open cut mine. Some of these features include the physical structure and substance of the earth, the grade (cut-off), the extent of deposits, property boundaries, bench height, road grades, the slope of the pits, and mining and processing costs.
A photo of Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond mine in Western Australia where stones are crushed, screened, X-rayed sorted, separated, acid washed and shipped.
Another method used to extract Diamond from the Earth is underground mining.
Underground mining can be accessed in three ways:
Decline – A type of ramp that spirals around the deposit.
Vertical Shaft – A vertical excavation adjoining a body of ore.
Adit – Horizontal excavations used for bodies of ore that are horizontal or near-horizontal.
Horizontal levels are dug out off the decline or shaft to gain access to the body of ore. A series of steps or layers (stopes) are excavated into the rock at an angle of 90°, or thereabouts, to the level into the ore. This action is known as stoping, a process of extraction where cavities known as stopes are left behind in the underground mine.
TOP TEN DIAMOND MINES IN THE WORLD
Jubilee – the biggest Diamond mine in the world – Russia (Yakutia region)
Udachny – one of the deepest open pits (630m) – Russia (Yakutia region)
Argyle – Australia (Western Australia)
Mirny – Russia (Yakutia region)
Catoca – Angola
Venetia – Limpopo province of South Africa
Grib – Russia (Arkhangelsk region)
Jwaneng – considered the richest mine in terms of value -Botswana
Orapa – Botswana
Botuobinskaya – Russia (Yakutia region)
Alluvial Diamond deposits emerge from the natural processes of erosion and weathering of kimberlite over millions of years. These deposits end up in river beds, under the ocean or on shorelines.
Twelve miles off Namibia’s southern coastline and 150 metres below the sea, Diamond miners are working to secure their future. The large Diamond company (De Beers) is building up a naval fleet in a joint operation with the Namibian government to protect its future and interests. De Beers estimates that 95% of its Diamonds will eventually be sourced from the seabed off Africa’s south-west coast in the future.
Below is a picture of the DeBeers ship Peace in Africa the largest remote-controlled deep-sea dredge in the world.
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