Thursday, December 26, 2013


A team of Australian geologists has reported in a recent paper that kimberlite has been found in samples from Mt Meredith, within the northern Prince Charles Mountains in East Antarctica. Kimberlite is an igneous rock named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where in 1871 the discovery of a 83.5-carat (16.70 g) diamond resulted in a diamond rush.

Kimberlite deposits are vertical pipes intruded into the crust from deep in the mantle, sometimes carrying diamond bearing xenoliths (foreign rocks). 98% of pipes do not contain diamonds. Diamonds form from pure carbon subjected to extreme heat and pressure, about 150km deep within the Earth's crust.

Diamonds were not found in the three samples taken from Mt Meredith, though the mineral’s signature is ‘texturally, mineralogically and geochemically typical of Group I kimberlites from more classical localities’ ( The study focused on the region’s geology and not on potential mining sites.

This new study suggests kimberlite was uplifted about 120 million years ago, before Gondwana segmented into present-day Africa, the Arabian peninsula, South America, the Indian sub-continent, Australia, Antarctica and New Zealand. Kimberlite deposits would have originally been within the centre of Gondwana, until the continents began to drift.

Any excitement about mining rights for the potential diamonds must be curtailed, as the 1961 treaty protecting Antarctica was updated with an environmental protocol in 1991. Article 7 of this protocol prohibits any activity relating to mineral resources. This pact comes up for review in 2048 and has been ratified by 35 nations.

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991):

Post on diamond prospecting in the Arctic:

Photo: Dougie Gray,

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