The possibility that diamonds could be found in Antarctica got people excited after the revelation that a new rock had been discovered in the frigid continent for the first time.
A kind of rock that often contains diamonds was discovered in Antarctica, where mining is banned.
Even though researchers didn’t find any diamonds, they are confident the precious rocks are present in Antarctica.
“It would be very surprising if there weren’t diamonds in these kimberlites,” Greg Yaxley of the Australian National University in Canberra, who led the research team, said in a telephone interview, according to Reuters.
The Australian led-team reported their findings in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, where they describe finding kimberlite deposits around Mount Meredith, in the Prince Charles Mountains in East Antarctica.
Kimberlite is a rare rock where diamonds are often found, and it is named after the South African town of Kimberley, which was the site of a late 19th-century diamond rush.
But we will not see any kind of diamond rush in Antarctica any time soon as the continent is not only brutally cold, but it is also protected by an international treaty which preserves scientific research and wildlife.
“I don’t think it’s terribly practical that anyone could actually explore successfully and, personally, I hope that mining does not take place,” Yaxley said.
Geologist Teal Riley of the British Antarctic Survey doesn’t think diamond mining in Antarctica is viable as, usually, less than 10 percent of the deposits of similar kimberlite are economically viable.
Only the 50 signatories to the Antarctica Treaty are bound by it, however. The US and China back the agreement to protect the continent from mining, and many expect the ban to be extended to 2041.
Nature Communications said in a statement:
“There is likely to be little opposition to an extension of this prohibition, despite the potential discovery of a new type of Antarctic ‘ice’.”
Diamonds are formed under intense heat and pressure around 100 miles below earth’s surface in the molten rock of Earth’s mantle.
Millions of years later, diamonds are brought to the surface in powerful eruptions and preserved formations, called kimberlites, such as the one recently discovered in Antarctica.