Russian Crater Diamonds Worth $1 Quadrillion

By Amir Khan on September 19, 2012 1:01 PM EDT

Diamond
A Siberian meteorite crater allegedly contains "trillions of carats" of diamonds, Russian Scientists announced on Monday. If true, the finding would be worth over $1 quadrillion at current market prices, and could supply global markets for the next 3,000 years -- crippling the value of the gem. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A Siberian meteorite crater allegedly contains "trillions of carats" of diamonds, Russian Scientists announced on Monday. If true, the finding would be worth over $1 quadrillion at current market prices, and could supply global markets for the next 3,000 years -- crippling the value of the gem.

Soviets reportedly discovered the trove in the 1970's, but decided not to announce it as to avoid upsetting the world's diamond market. However, with the discovery now declassified, diamonds could be seen in common, everyday items.

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The diamonds, located in the Popigai Astroblem crater, contains impact diamonds, which are twice as hard as regular diamonds, according to Yahoo! News.  How impact diamonds form is debated, but they most likely occur when a meteorite crashes into an area rich with carbon. The high pressure from the impact, coupled with the temperature, forms diamonds.

"The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popigai crypto-explosion structure, are by a factor of ten bigger than the world's all known reserves," Nikolai Pokhilenko, director of the Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, told. "We are speaking about trillions of carats. By comparison, present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats."

Despite the claim, many experts are questioning the claim, saying that impact diamonds are typically found in small quantities.

"The diamonds that have been found around meteorite-impact craters have been small and few," Richard April, a professor of geology at Colgate University, told Yahoo! News. "It's interesting that the Russians are claiming that they found a gigantic deposit of diamonds in a meteorite-impact crater, because, from what we've seen so far, it's kind of unlikely."

However, April said there is a slim chance that the meteorite landed in a preexisting diamond field, dredged up from beneath the Earth's surface by volcanic processes. These deposits, known as kimberlite pipes, are known to exist in Siberia.

"That might also account for the fact that there are so many of them. To have trillions of carats, though. This is the first I've ever heard of trillions of carats," he said. "That has never been found before and that would make this a very unique situation."

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