Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Scientists Discover New Kind of Ice Inside Diamonds

Scientists Discover New Kind of Ice Inside Diamonds

And while earlier research had suggested that this form of water ice could be created artificially in a laboratory, the new study points to diamonds having the right chemical features and properties to allow small amounts of ice-VII to be produced naturally on Earth. 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.

The diamonds were collected at the depths of 410 and 660 km from transition zone in the mantle.

"These discoveries are important in understanding that water-rich regions in the Earth's interior can play a role in the global water budget and the movement of heat-generating radioactive elements", Tschauner said. Authors wrote in the study. These water molecules were most likely trapped in liquid form about 400 to 500 miles below Earth's surface as diamond crystals began to form.

"Water in diamonds is not unknown, but finding this very high pressure form of water ice intact, that was really fortuitous", said Tschauner. The further we go down, the more intense the heat and pressure becomes.

A group of scientists led by Oliver Tschauner, a professor of geoscience from the University of Nevada, have discovered a form of super-dense ice known as ice-VII on Earth for the first time. "It's another piece of puzzle in understanding how our planet works". It is about one-and-a-half times as dense as the regular ice we use in our drinks.

Ice-VII represents a totally different type of water ice.

Unlike other solids, the atoms are compressed under high pressure, ice under high pressure rebuilds in the new structure. That ice in your soda is technically known as ice-I in which water molecules are arranged in a hexagonal shape.

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