Wow. “Helicopters are forbidden from flying over it in case downward air flow sucks them in…”

Via Wired.

The Russian government has revealed that a vast quantity of high-quality diamonds rests beneath a Siberian impact crater, numbering in the “trillions of carats”.

The Popigai crater, 100km-wide and located in the isolated north of the country, was formed roughly 35.7 million years ago by the impact of an asteroid estimated to be between five and eight kilometres wide. Its collision created a wealth of impact diamonds — which form when an existing diamond seam is hit by a large falling body — in such quantities that could, it is claimed, supply the world diamond market for the next 3,000 years.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Nikolai Pokhilenko, the director of the Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, has said that these diamonds are “twice as hard” as normal diamonds, making them ideal for industrial and scientific use. He also claimed that the supply under Popigai is ten times the size of the rest of the world’s reserves, potentially holding trillions of carats. A carat — defined as 200mg — is the standard measurement of weight for precious gems and minerals.

The Popigai crater is the world’s fourth-largest asteroid impact crater known so far, after the Chicxulub, Sudbury and Vredefort craters. The Soviet government reportedly discovered the deposits in the 1970s on a scientific expedition, but decided to keep the information secret so as not to disturb world markets and lower the value of their already-profitable Mirny mine further east, which at its height was producing ten million carats of diamonds per year.

The mine, now closed due to falling yields, is currently the second-largest excavated hole in the world, and helicopters are forbidden from flying over it in case downward air flow sucks them in. The Soviet Union had also invested large sums in manufacturing high-quality diamonds, and wanted to see a return on their research.

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4 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. midget says:

    If this is true, the Russians have the capability of eliminating poverty in the entire world.They are now able to dig wells for fresh water, provide sanitation services, house, feed and clothe the impoverished people in entire 3rd world countries. They can now provide medical assistance to the poorest of the poor. What a dream come true. If only they would do it. The separation of the words would and could are infinite.

  2. Pat_S says:

    This news is from September 2012. Apparently the Russians knew about this diamond find since the 1970’s. The diamonds are not jewelry quality, more for industrial use, but difficult to get at. It is cheaper to make industrial diamonds in a lab.

    Well apparently they do, but apparently there’s a catch. National Jeweler has been able to get in contact with Alrosa, the Russian mining giant, who confirmed that the huge diamond deposit really does exist. Unfortunately, the diamonds are not jewelry quality, a spokesperson for Alrosa said, and while they could feasibly be used for industrial purposes, they are located in an area without good infrastructure and it would not prove cost efficient to mine for them when low-grade, industrial-use diamonds can be made in labs more cheaply.

    So yes, the story of “trillions of carats” of diamonds underneath an asteroid crater is a remarkable story. But no — it is not going to make your engagement ring any cheaper.

    Read more:

  3. otlset says:

    This is great news for analog music lovers! Now I can rest easy that there will be no shortage of high-quality stereo cartridge styli and cantilevers, and even loudspeaker tweeters! Suddenly I’m inspired to fire up my system and spin some LP records in celebration…perhaps some Shostakovich on the Russian Melodya label…later after I finish my chores of course…

  4. Maynard says:

    Someday maybe some gal can explain diamonds to me. But it’s probably hopeless.

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