September 18, 2012
Russia Reveals Diamond-Rich Prehistoric Asteroid Crater
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Russia, it seems, has been keeping a big secret underground for years: A big, shiny secret.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Russia yesterday released news about an expansive new field full of diamonds, ripe for the mining. All told, this new diamond field, which lies underneath an asteroid crater, contains “trillions of carats,” or enough to substantially shakeup the current status of the gem market and sustain it for the foreseeable future, say, 3,000 years.
Russia discovered this huge diamond stash several decades ago in the 1970s beneath the Popigai Astroblem crater. This 35-million-year-old crater measures 62-miles in diameter in Eastern Siberia and is the fourth-largest crater known so far, behind the Chicxculub, Sudbury and Vredefort craters. Aptly titled “Impact Diamonds,” these gems are of no use to jewelers. However, diamonds have many other industrial uses, making these diamonds still of high value to those that need them.
When the Russians discovered this treasure trove of sparkling profit, they decided to keep quiet about it, as other diamond operations in the country, specifically in Mirny, Yakutia, were already producing enough diamonds to make a healthy profit. Scientists were given their first peek at this underground secret this past weekend, and were later allowed to discuss it with members of the press. One such scientist, Nikolai Pokhilenko, the head of the Geological and Mineralogical Institute in Novosibirsk, told reporters these diamonds include extra forms of carbon, making them twice as hard as other 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," Mr. Pokhilenko said, speaking to ITAR-Tass, official news agency in Russia. "We are speaking about trillions of carats. By comparison, present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats."
Though this discovery could potential shakeup and revolutionize the diamond-in-industry market, the diamonds-as-jewelry market will remain untouched by this discovery.
The Russian government is proud of their Popigai Diamonds, saying there are no other diamonds like them in the world. This, they hope, will make Russia a strong and powerful player in the market as diamonds become more important for precision processes in industry and science.
"The value of impact diamonds is added by their unusual abrasive features and large grain size," Pokhilenko told Tass. "This expands significantly the scope of their industrial use and makes them more valuable for industrial purposes."
Russia jumped into the diamond industry when they began discovering and producing these rock-hard gems from their own mines in 2000.
In only 7 years, Russia was producing plenty of the shiny stuff, placing them on top of the diamond game when they produced $1.35 billion worth in 2007. The great majority of these diamonds (98%) were exported to countries like Belgium, Israel, South-east Asia and the US.
However, things took a downturn for the Russian diamond market in 2009, along with the rest of the global economy, when diamond production dropped to just $350 million, an unprecedented low number. Russia could have waited until now to reveal these mines in an attempt to regain their former glory and ride this mine into a prosperous future.