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Russia reveals: It's awash in diamonds


#1

Thought I would pass this along for those interested in the diamond
gem world. Formed by a meteor strike, these ‘impact diamonds’ are
twice as hard as normal diamonds.

Russia reveals shiny state secret: It’s awash in diamonds
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zin

Russia has just declassified news that will shake world gem
markets to their coRe: the discovery of a vast new diamond field
containing “trillions of carats,” enough to supply global
markets for another 3,000 years.

The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a
35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern
Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem.

They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it,
apparently because the USSR’s huge diamond operations at Mirny,
in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was
then a tightly controlled world market.

How much do you know about Russia? Take our quiz.

The Soviets were also producing a range of artificial diamonds
for industry, into which they had invested heavily.

The veil of secrecy was finally lifted over the weekend, and
Moscow permitted scientists from the nearby Novosibirsk
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy to talk about it with
Russian journalists.

According to the official news agency, ITAR-Tass, the diamonds
at Popigai are “twice as hard” as the usual making
them ideal for industrial and scientific uses.

The institute’s director, Nikolai Pokhilenko, told the agency
that news of what’s in the new field could be enough to
"overturn" global diamond markets.

“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. “We are speaking about trillions of carats. By comparison,
present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one
billion carats.”

The type of stones at Popigai are known as "impact diamonds,"
which theoretically result when something like a meteor plows
into an existing diamond deposit at high velocity. The Russians
say most such diamonds found in the past have been “space
diamonds” of extraterrestrial origin found in meteor craters.

They claim the Popigai site is unique in the world, thus making
Russia the monopoly proprietor of a resource that’s likely to
become increasingly important in high-precision scientific and
industrial processes.

“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.”

Russian scientists say the news is likely to change the shape of
global diamond markets, although the main customers for the
super-hard gems will probably be big corporations and scientific
institutes.


#2

It’s been a kind of open secret for years but the russia has finally
declassified "…a large deposit of super hard diamonds which are
twice harder than usual ones. "


#3

Given that the Popigai impact structure, its diamonds, the quantity
of these, and their unusual hardness have been well known for years
the “declassification” of this is its sole singular and
noteworthy feature. The only shaking that will take place upon the
world gem markets is shaking with laughter. Tomorrow I will
declassify the fact that the sun sets in the west and confidently
expect to see it in the headlines the day after.

Cheers all
Hans Durstling
Moncton Canada


#4
the "declassification" of this is its sole singular
and noteworthy feature. 

Gee, Hans, what a spoilsport. :slight_smile:
What makes these diamonds harder?

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#5
The only shaking that will take place upon the world gem markets is
shaking with laughter. 

I wish that it would be true, but it is not that simple. Price of
diamonds that jewelers use are subsidized by sale of industrial
diamonds. If there is an unlimited supply of industrial diamonds,
the price has to go down and price of jewellery stone would have to
go up.

There is another complication of geo-political nature. It takes time
to machine parts for modern jet fighters and other military gadgets.
The alloys used are so hard that even diamond tools having hard time
dealing with them. Having super hard diamonds will eliminate these
difficulties, so everything would happen much faster. What would
happen if Russia would decide to supply with these diamonds only
members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization ? NATO would become a
paper tiger and balance of power will shift towards Russia. By
declassifying it now, on the verge of strike against Iran, Putin put
the whole western world on notice. It is a very bold geo-political
move with potentially grave consequences.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6
What makes these diamonds harder? 

The answer lies in understanding what is an isotope. An isotope has
the same number of protons and electrons, but varies in number of
neutrons. If diamond is formed from carbon 13 instead of carbon 12,
it means that every atom has an extra neutron. That makes for
greater density and greater hardness.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

What makes these diamonds harder?

The answer lies in understanding what is an isotope. 

I hope someone has an answer other than this one.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#8

Hi Al,

Now for a simpler explanation, that wont have you researching
particle physics :-\

The diamonds in question are called impact diamonds.

They are formed when a meteorite smashes into a graphite deposit.
The hard carbon crystals are created under intense heat and pressure
generated form the meteor impact.

Because they have a very high density they are very good for
industrial applications.

The diamonds found in a meteor in Finland in 1971 are considered
ultra hard (meaning the hardest yet), how hard hasn’t been determined
because the crystals are too small.

Regards Charles A.


#9

They say one billion carats which is a lot of abrasive. Could it be
moissanite family of C?

Also, what do jewellers say about moissanite jewelry? Moissanite is
rare, it is surely durable and it can be turned into very aesthetic
jewelry pieces like Faberge eggs by skilled Russians.

Imagine “The Winter Egg” ( 4 inches high) and sold in 1994 for 5 1/2
million $ at auction encrusted with moissanite.

Or how about a whole lot of Winter Eggs for the proletariat masses?


#10

Hi All,

I hope someone has an answer other than this one. 

Yeah, I have to agree with Al: I believe there’s probably more to
it. My knowledge of diamonds is incomplete, but what I know of them
says that they’re held together by covalent atomic bonds, which are
as strong as it gets. My understanding was that diamonds can be made
weaker by virtue of impurities getting into the atomic matrix, and
screwing up the bonding. As purity goes up, so does hardness, but
there is an uppermost limit to the hardness once total purity is
reached. So there can’t be ‘super hard’ diamonds, just diamonds that
are more pure than the normal ones, and thus harder than average.
Which is what puzzles me about these ‘impact crater’ diamonds. I
can’t see how kinetic shock will do a thing to purify the atomic
matrix. So it should have no positive effect on the stones at all,
assuming that what I believe about diamond hardness is true. (It’s
more likely to make them softer by introducing impurities, and
disrupting the matrix, so far as I can figure.)

I’m very curious about the timing and nature of this announcement.
It reads like somebody’s PR game, or like someone’s trying to short
the diamond market. After all, the Russians haven’t ever played games
with the global diamond market before…

As far as machining aerospace alloys, these things wouldn’t be of
much use for the really tricky stuff, and there are already synthetic
diamond coatings that are of use, and are pretty bloody hard. (I
can’t say categorically that PCD (or PCBN, CVD) coatings are harder
than these ‘super diamonds’ because I haven’t the foggiest notion of
how hard these ‘super’ stones are, or what makes them that way, if in
fact they are harder than average.)

As far as selling them only to the Chinese? Doubt it. Russia and
China are already getting ‘tense’ with each other in regards to
Siberia’s resources. Odds are pretty good that it’s going to get a
lot more ‘tense’ in the next decade, so selling them to one’s most
likely future adversary would be pretty silly.

So we go back to trying to figure out who’s shorting what market85

Regards,
Brian.


#11

Hexagonal vs cubic crystal structure


#12

Al and anyone else who might be interested. I have done a little
looking as I had just reviewed in my geochemical readings about
isotope geochemistry of several stable isotopes including carbon
about C13 in diamond structures. In 1985 in the Geochemical Journal,
Orizna, et al. published a study that mapped the concentration and
distribution of C13 in a specific diamond, and showed that the C13
concentration was elevated in relation to C12 in diamonds thus
indicating a high temperature (greater than 600 degrees C). They
also found that C13 did not appear to diffuse in the crystal but did
decrease in zones of cooling from the middle to the outer edge. This
type of finding for mantle origin diamonds was echoed by studies
published by Deines (2002 in the Earth Science Review), Schulze
(1997 in the Journal of Geology) and Krauskopf (1985 in his textbook
"Introduction to Geochemistry). I can find no refereed publication
regarding the hardness of diamond in relation to the isotopic
composition of diamond. I can find no study of the C13 concentration
in impact generation of diamonds. So I can make no conclusion about
the hardness of impact diamonds being greater based on C13
concentration or any other reason.

John


#13

According to this abstract polycrystalline diamond is harder than
single crystal diamond. Perhaps these Russian deposits are of such a
type. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zjn

See also: http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zjo

Also, IIRC, one of the synthetic diamond manufacturers, perhaps GE,
was able to produce synthetic diamond somewhat harder than natural
diamond by the inclusion of boron in the crystal. I have no reference
for this as I read it decades ago.

Ellioot


#14

I have to withdraw my original theory that extreme hardness of
diamonds in this deposit is due to higher concentration of carbon 13.
It appears that due to impact, all the graphite in the area of 13.6
km from ground zero was instantaneously converted to diamond. The
resulting crystals have the same layers as graphite but additional
bonds were created between the layers. That is what accounts for
super hardness of these diamonds. Here is the description of the
deposit

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zjr [PDF file]

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#15
Now for a simpler explanation, that wont have you researching
particle physics:-\ 

Good, because I have studied particle physics, and don’t think
it’s particularly applicable here :slight_smile:

My understanding is that the hardness (and other properties) of
diamond are due primarily to the strong covalent bonding between the
carbon atoms in the cubic structure. Variations in hardness are due
to differences in purity and flaws in the structure, and of course
the orientation, the structure being more rigid along the diagonal.
Density has a role, since flawed or impure diamonds are likely to be
less dense, but I doubt that the addition of a neutron much affects
the strength of the covalent bonding, though I suppose the density
would increase by about 8% if all the carbon were C13, rather than
the usual 1%.

I suppose that the impact diamonds might be higher in purity,
perhaps due to the small size and speed of formation.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#16

I have a great deal of respect for Mr Surpin as a goldsmith, but as
a mineralogist/chemist he is []. If you follow the isotope and density
line of reasoning, then Gold being 6 times denser than carbon should
therefore be 6 times harder than diamond. Mass or density has
practically nothing to do with hardness - structure has everything
to do with it. Natural diamond (that found in kimberlite) has a Cubic
crystalline structure where as the ‘diamonds’ in question should be
called Lonsdaleite (named after it’s discoverer Karen Lonsdale, and
the Canyon Diablo crater find). It is a severe impact crystalline
structure composed of a hexagonal lattice. This more compressed
structural crystal system gives it the incredible hardness exhibited
in this Russian deposit.

Just one more item to dispense with, the ratio of carbon-13 to
carbon (as a whole) is 1.1%. If the isotope was the sole
characteristic it would mean that Russia would have the entire solar
system’s repository monopolized, indeed there wouldn’t be any carbon
13 within several hundred parsec’s, save that found in the Russian
deposit, but point of fact that also, is false.

Everyone should do themselves a favor and learn to wiki or at least
consult with a reputed source outside the Orchid forums, most of
this august body are artisans not scientists - there are a very few
that cross the thresholds of both disciplines.

Regards,
Dallas


#17
They say one billion carats which is a lot of abrasive. Could it
be moissanite family of C? 

Moissanite is silicon carbide, and softer than diamond.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#18
Hexagonal vs cubic crystal structure
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zjp 

That’s probably what they’re referring to. Thank you. The
lonsdaleite structure is harder than normal cubic diamond on the 100
face, although regular diamond is still harder along the diagonal
111. So, the impact diamonds are harder or softer, depending on
orientation.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#19
If you follow the isotope and density line of reasoning, then Gold
being 6 times denser than carbon should therefore be 6 times harder
than diamond. Mass or density has practically nothing to do with
hardness - structure has everything to do with it. 

I am sure that your mineralogical knowledge far exceeds mine.
Nevertheless, I do want to point out few things though. To extend
line of reasoning of differences between isotopes to chemical
elements is absurd. I am surprised that anyone claiming any
mineralogical/chemical credentials is not aware of this. Second, the
discussion is limited not to any isotope of any element, but to
carbon 13 organized as diamond specifically.

Since pure carbon 13 diamonds have not been found yet or even
diamonds with prevalence of carbon 13 in diamond composition, the
discussion is theoretical. Given what we know about atomic
structures, I find it very plausible that such diamonds would exhibit
superior properties. I present my arguments bellow.

Every diamond crystal is in essence a single molecule. It probably
incorrect to call it molecule because number of atoms differs
depending on size of a diamond, so it is conventionally called giant
covalent structure. Atoms hold together by intramolecular forces as
opposed to intermolecular ones, and therefore conceptually every
single diamond is a molecule. That accounts for diamonds strength,
high melting point, and insolubility. Having an extra neutron in
nucleus, every carbon 13 atom exerts tighter control on it’s
electron cloud due to stronger gravitational force ( more mass =
stronger gravity ). Theory predicts that due to stronger
gravitational force, electron orbits are tighter and the size of the
cloud is smaller, even if imperceptibly so. Given huge number of
atoms in such structures ( 1 carat diamond contains 10^22 atoms ),
smaller electron clouds would allow for more atoms per unit of space
and further improvement of natural diamond properties, such as
hardness, melting point, and insolubility among others.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#20
Having an extra neutron in nucleus, every carbon 13 atom exerts
tighter control on it's electron cloud due to stronger
gravitational force ( more mass = stronger gravity ). Theory
predicts that due to stronger gravitational force, electron orbits
are tighter and the size of the cloud is smaller, even if
imperceptibly so. 

This is wrong. The electromagnetic force, which binds electrons to
the protons in a nucleus, is about 10^36 (10 with 36 zeros after it)
times stronger than gravity. The force of gravity is insignificant
compared to the forces that hold atoms together, and gravity plays
no part in determining the size of an atom’s electron cloud.

Ken Sparks