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You're reading: Russia boasts of huge diamond field

MOSCOW — Russian scientists are claiming that a gigantic deposit of industrial diamonds found in a huge Siberian meteorite crater during Soviet times could revolutionize industry.

The Siberian branch of Russian Academy of
Sciences said that the Popigai crater in eastern Siberia contains “many
trillions of carats” of so-called “impact diamonds” — good for
technological purposes, not for jewelry, and far exceeding the currently
known global deposits of conventional diamonds.

Nikolai
Pokhilenko, the head of the Geological and Mineralogical Institute in
Novosibirsk, told RIA Novosti news agency Monday that the diamonds
include other molecular forms of carbon. He said they could be twice as
hard as conventional diamonds and therefore have superlative industrial
qualities.

He said the minerals could lead to a “revolution” in
various industries. “But they can’t upset a diamond market because it is
shaped by diamonds for jewelry purposes.”

The deposit was
discovered by Soviet scientists in the 1970s, but was left unexplored as
the Soviet leadership opted for producing synthetic diamonds for
industrial use. The deposit remained classified until after the Soviet
collapse.

Pokhilenko said that the diamonds owe their unparalleled
hardness to enormous pressure and high temperatures at the moment of
explosion when a giant meteorite hit 35 million years ago, leaving a
100-kilometer (60-mile) crater.

The Siberian branch of Russian
Academy of Sciences said in a statement that scientists discussed the
issue at a roundtable in Novosibirsk over the weekend, saying that
further studies will be needed to assess economic aspects of their
potential exploration.

Pokhilenko said his institute is planning to send an expedition to the crater in cooperation with Russia’s state-controlled diamond mining company Alrosa.

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