Antarctica may have diamond deposits

Researchers have found the presence of kimberlite, a rock known to house diamonds and protect them as they make their way to the surface from 90 miles below, where they are formed.

By Ananth Baliga

The icy slopes of Antarctica's mountains have shown the possible presence of diamond deposits, however, recovering these deposits for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Scientists have found evidence of kimberlite, a bluish rock known to house precious metals, on the slopes of Mount Meredith in the northern Prince Charles Mountains, and reported their research in the journal Nature Communications.


The presence of kimberlite has been a marker for diamond deposits in several parts of the world including Africa, Siberia and Australia. Diamonds are created at high pressure and temperature some 90 miles below the surface and are brought up by volcanic eruptions, usually preserved by kimberlite.

"The fact they are reporting Group One kimberlites is an important one as diamonds are more likely to be found in this style of kimberlite eruption," said Dr. Teal Riley, a survey geologist with the British Antarctic Survey.

Even if researchers do find large deposits of diamonds, mining is prohibited by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which explicitly bans any extraction activity relating to mineral resources, except for scientific purposes. The treaty is up for review in 2041.


[Nature Communications] [BBC]

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