Scientists Discover New Kind of Ice Inside Diamonds

Earth’s Deep Mantle Holds Some Very Interesting Secrets

For his study, Tschauner used diamonds found in China, the Republic of South Africa, and Botswana that surged up from inside Earth. Ice-VII has been compressed, with oxygen atoms in a cubic structure as opposed to the hexagonal structure of Ice-I. According to the researchers, who published their findings in Science, the ice was found accidentally, preserved in a diamond among samples of material extracted from the Earth's mantle. But sometimes other substances, like water, get trapped inside these diamonds, in what's known as an incursion.

"The presence of water in the diamond has always been known, but the discovery of the shape of the ice formed under ultrahigh pressure, we really struck", says Professor George Rossman.

The mantle is very hot, so there's no way for ice to form there. Though ice-VII was known to form in space, and may make up much of ice worlds like Europa, it had only been created in lab conditions on Earth. Increase the pressure after amplification, and the atoms will move to the ice-III, then IV, V, VI and VII.Once it reaches a phase of ice-VII structure remains quite stable even with increasing pressure.

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Thanks to their discovery, ice-VII has been recognized for the first time as a mineral in the International Mineralogical Assn.

"Usually the extremely deep minerals that come up to the surface are not stable once they experience low pressures", said California Institute of Technology mineralogist and study author George Rossman. "But if a diamond comes up fast enough, it doesn't change".

As the name suggests, there are a few kinds of ice that recognize our common assortment of solidified water from Ice-VII, every more thick than the last.


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