Дефекты в сверхбольших алмазах делают их бесполезными в качестве драгоценности, но, в то же время, они становятся интересной находкой для геологов. Крошечные металлические вкрапления внутри самых больших алмазов на Земле являются прямым доказательством того, что мантия планеты содержит никель и железо.

Эван Смит, геолог из Геммологического института Америки (GIA), говорит, что присутствие металла в мантии — это «то, что уже давно было доказано теоретически, но получить образцы, которые являются вещественными доказательствами теории, нам удалось впервые».

Образование алмазов происходит в мантии, когда углеродсодержащие соединение сдавливаются и нагреваются до высоких температур. По ходу этого процесса следы других элементов могут проникнуть в качестве вкраплений. Подобные вкрапления делают минерал непригодным в качестве драгоценности и алмазы с большим количеством таких недостатков обычно не нужны ювелирам. Но для ученых такие алмазы являются бесценными: они являются чуть ли не единственным вещественным доказательством того, что происходит в глубине Земли.

По результатам анализа вкраплений в 53 алмазах, команда Смита смогла установить, что сверхкрупные алмазы образуются на сотни километров глубже, по сравнению с обычными, в другой части мантии. В глубинных алмазах ученые обнаружили вкрапления из смеси никеля, железа, углерода и серы, окруженные метаном и водородом.

Металлические вкрапления дают основания полагать, что часть мантии, в которой формируются крупные алмазы, содержит никель и железо, и тот факт, что эти металлы никак не реагируют с прочими элементами и не образует никаких соединений говорит о том, что месторождения алмазов, скорее всего, содержат очень мало кислорода.

Понимание состава мантии Земли поможет ученым в большей мере понять, как происходит движение тектонических плит, а также как такие элементы как кислород и углерод остаются в Земле.

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