Welcome to the second installment of This Summer Rocks! 7 Geology and Gem Inspired Adventures. Today’s adventure takes us on a magical journey through space and time to learn about the strongest and most brilliant gem on earth. No wonder diamonds are so coveted with attributes like that!
Our adventure begins a billion years ago and 100 miles below the oldest part of the African continent. To get there we dreamed up a fantastic vehicle with a drill nose and a clock capable of rewinding time. It had super thick walls and we brought along a giant ice cube to keep us from burning up and being crushed by the extreme heat and pressure in the earth’s mantle.
Once we got there we switch the clock from rewind to fast forward and watched diamond crystals grow. Instead of forming ordinary graphite the heat and pressure caused the surrounding carbon atoms to become tightly woven together into what is called a covalent bond. It takes billions and billions of carbon atoms to form a one carat diamond and where does all that carbon come from? Turns out the earth might have recycled some of it from old plant/animal matter through a process called subduction.
Now for the most exciting part of our journey. We fastened out seatbelts as a very fast kimberlite pipe full of melted rock shot us and the diamonds back up to the earth!
We fast forwarded time again to see how many years of erosion freed us and some of the diamond crystals into a nearby stream.
We were back in present day and could finally pick up the examine the beautiful diamond crystals but unfortunately since our journey was fantasy we couldn’t keep the valuable gems.
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Diamonds were formed billions of years ago and in reality are inaccessible to us but thanks to these powerful kimberlite eruptions there are some to be found on or close to the earth’s surface.
If you want to find a diamond you have to look in the right places. Sometimes a circular dip in the ground can be seen at the site of an eroding kymberlite pipe. Scientists also have tools for identifying possible locations.
If you would like to increase your odds of finding a diamond visit Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas where if you find a diamond you get to keep it!
Diamond Crystal Printable
And if you can’t make it to Arkansas make your own diamond crystal model. Diamonds are cut by jewelers into shapes that enhance their beauty and brilliance but diamond crystals naturally form as octahedrons. Here’s how… Print: octahedron printable, cut out shape, fold along all lines, unfold, glue shaded triangles together (last one is a little tricky but you can slip your finger inside to press flap closed), and fold.
Further reading: While we were watching diamond crystals grow Mrs. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus drove right past us (image is Amazon affiliate link)!
Also in this series…