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A diamond can be defined as a mineral which represents a cubic allotropic form of carbon. Besides, it is acknowledged to be the firmest mineral. This paper is aimed to highlight when and where diamonds were discovered, their structure, and modern uses.
When and Where Diamonds Were Discovered
A diamond is a rare mineral but possible to be found worldwide. Nowadays, the industrial occurrences of diamonds are known on all the continents, except for Antarctica. There are several types of diamond occurrences. For thousands of years, diamonds were quarried from placer occurrences. However, by the end of the 19th century, diamondiferous volcanic pipes were discovered. Thus, it became obvious that diamonds were not formed in river deposits (Shirey 371).
It has to be stated that exact scientific data about the origin and age of diamonds has not been received and, thus, is not available yet. There exist a number of hypotheses which scientists have been considering. They are abyssal, mantle, meteorite, and fluid. However, the majority of scientists are inclined to accept the abyssal and mantle theories. They admit that, under high pressure of about fifty thousand atmospheres and at a depth of about two hundred kilometers, atoms of carbon form a cubic crystalline grid, which is a diamond. Diamonds are brought to the surface by a volcanic magma in the course of the formation of volcanic pipes (Shirey 383-384). Based on some research, diamonds are estimated to be between one hundred million and 2 billion and a half years old. There were discovered meteorite diamonds of extraterrestrial origin that had existed before the sun appeared. Besides, diamonds are formed during the process of impact metamorphism in the course of the fall of large meteorites, for example in the Popigai astrobleme in the north of Siberia in Russia. What is more, diamonds have been found in the associations of metamorphism of ultrahigh-pressure, for example, in the Kumdykolskoe occurrence of diamonds in the Kokchevsky massive in Kazakhstan. Both impact and metamorphic diamonds tend to form rather large-scale places of occurrence, with a huge stock and high concentration. However, the diamonds of these types are not large enough in size to be used in the industry (Nestola et al. 2).
Industrial occurrences of diamonds are connected with kimberlite and lamproite pipes which are timed to ancient cratons. The major occurrences of this type are located in Africa, Russia, Australia, and Canada. The first occurrences which were discovered were the ones in India, in the east of the Deccan plateau. They were exhausted by the end of the 19th century. In 1727, there were found rich diamond fields in Brazil, especially in the province of Minas Gerais, near Diamantine, as well as in La Hapada in the province of Baya. What is more, in 1867 there were discovered rich occurrences in South Africa, known as Cape diamonds. They were found in root deposits close to a present-day city of Kimberly. That is why they are called kimberlites (Loubser and Mbangula 18).
From 1871 to 1914 there were processed about 2.722 tons of diamonds, which is 14.5 million carats. In the mid-2000s, there were extracted up to 176 million carats of diamonds annually. However, over the past years, there has been witnessed a reduction of quarrying. In accordance with the material of Kimberlic trial, the world extraction of diamonds in 2011 was estimated to be 123.99 carats, whereas an average price of a carat was 115 US dollars. The power of the existing occurrences, the level of their processing, and the expecting operation of new mines allow predicting that in the long-term perspective, there might be an increase in the demand over the offer in the world market (Loubser and Mbangula 19).
Structure of Diamonds
A diamond is acknowledged to be a cubic syngony, a crystalline grid. The atoms of carbon are located in the position of sp³-hybridization. Each atom of carbon in the structure of a diamond is situated in the center of a tetrahedron. Its tops are the four closest atoms. This firm connection of atoms of carbon ensures the high firmness of a diamond (Shirey 356).
Uses of Diamonds
Diamonds have been mostly used to produce diamonds. This is their traditional application. However, their exceptional firmness allows them to be indispensable in the industries. Nowadays, diamonds are used in the production of knives, drills, and cutters. Besides, diamond powder is used as an abrasive substance for cutting and sharpening disks. What is more, diamonds can be used in modern technologies. Presently, they are used in quantum computers, as well as in clock and watch production. Besides, diamonds are used in the nuclear industry. Apart from that, the development of microelectronics with a diamond base has appeared to be perspective. There are accomplished products which are characterized by extremely high temperature and radiation resistance. Moreover, it might be perspective to use diamonds as an active element in microelectronics, especially in heavy-current and high-current devices due to the high index of piercing voltage and great thermal conductivity (Loubser and Mbangula 18-19).
This paper has been devoted to diamonds. It has considered when and where they were discovered. Besides, it has speculated on its structure and present-day uses.
Loubser, Joshua M., and Ingeborga T. Mbangula. “Diamonds on the Soles of its Feet: Diamonds.” Inside Miming, vol. 7, no. 10, 2014, pp. 18-19.
Nestola, Fernando, et al. “The Nature of Diamonds and Their Use in Earth’s Study.” LITHOS, vol. 265, 2016, pp. 1-3.
Shirey, Steven B. “Diamonds and Geology of Mantle Carbon.” Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, vol. 75, 2013, pp. 355-421.