The team of researchers, representing institutions such as MIT, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, discovered that they may be over a quadrillion tons of diamonds hidden deep inside the Earth.
The study also included researchers from various national and global institutions, including the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Science and Technology of China, among others.
Scientists used sound waves to uncover a cache of more than a quadrillion tons of diamonds deep below the Earth's surface.
They say despite its reputation for rarity and the value people have attributed to it, the discovery shows diamond is "perhaps not this exotic mineral" after all.
Because we can't just go look at the 100-miles-deep cratons ourselves (the deepest hole we've ever dug didn't even get a tenth of the way), the researchers built a virtual mantle using a computer algorithm and played around with different compositions until they found one that matched up with what they were observing. Ulrich Faul and his colleagues at MIT came to this conclusion after anomalies were indentified from studies of seismic data. For the past few decades, agencies such as the United States Geological Survey have kept global records of seismic activity - essentially, sound waves traveling through the Earth that are triggered by earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions, and other ground-shaking sources. The very deepest portions are known as the "root". The only model that produced speeds that lined up with what they were seeing in the real world was the one that assumed the massive cratonic roots were made up of 1 to 2 per cent diamond, in addition to peridotite and eclogite.
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Diamonds are formed under extremely high-temperature and high-pressure conditions found below Earth's crust. Cratons lie beneath most continental tectonic plates.
The news comes from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, who have uncovered that Earth's ancient mantle rocks may be made out of diamond.
Scientists also use seismic data to reveal what the deepest parts of the Earth are composed of, and paint a picture of what the inside of the planet looks like. Sound velocity is more than twice as fast as it is in the upper mantle rocks.
"Diamond in many ways is special", said Faul.
Cratons are naturally less dense than the surrounding rock, and the presence of the diamond does not change that.
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"They are like pieces of wood, floating on water", Dr. Faul said.
"We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one that's left as a reasonable explanation", Faul said.
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