Precious "roots" of continents: the origin of diamonds in the mantle of the Earth was established using supercomputers.

Russian scientists as part of an international team conducted a large-scale experiment on supercomputers to reconstruct processes that took place at the early stages of the geological history of the Earth. Researchers managed to find out how mantle keels appeared – a kind of ancient “roots” of continents that go to a depth of 350 km inside the planet and are a store of diamonds. The results of computer modeling showed that such formations appeared from 1.5 to 3.5 billion years ago as a result of the flow of a light and hot part of the ocean mantle under the continent. The remaining colder part of this mantle plunged along with the ocean crust to a great depth and saturated the future continental “roots” with carbon, due to which diamonds were formed.


Geologists of Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov, together with colleagues from Switzerland and Australia, conducted a large-scale experiment, which, according to them, allowed to solve the mystery of the origin of mantle keels – ancient diamond-bearing “roots” of continents. The discovery is reported in the journal Nature.

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An international team of scientists combined the capacities of three supercomputers to reconstruct the processes that took place in the Earth’s mantle during the earliest (Precambrian) period of the geological history of our planet.

“For experiments, we used three supercomputers: our Lomonosov Moscow State University supercomputer and two supercomputers at the Swiss Higher Technical School of Zurich. We created a computer model that reproduces the features of the ancient (Archean) oceanic crust and mantle, “said Professor Alexei Leonidovich Perchuk, head of the team, head of the Department of Petroleum and Volcanology of the Geological Faculty of Moscow State University.

According to the calculations of the scientist and his colleagues, in ancient times the process of subduction (immersion of the earth’s crust in the bowels of the planet) was different from the modern one.

“The upper mantle of another chemical composition participated in the ancient subduction, devoid primarily of the glandular component and therefore very light. Because of this, she did not go entirely to the depth, but flowed gigantic “languages” under the continent, where she subsequently frozen, “Professor Perchuk explained.

Scientists have found that in this way a stable layered structure, different from the rest of the mantle, was formed under the continent, which cooled and solidified over several billion years. Geologists call the resulting unusual formations mantle keels or “roots” of continents. Their age is from 1.5 to 3.5 billion years, and they go inside the Earth to a depth of 350 km. Such “roots” have a special geochemical composition, and it is in them that most of the diamonds of the planet are located.

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