Russian workers at Alrosa's Udachnaya diamond mine have found a strange red and green 30 mm rock containing over 30,000 tiny diamonds, which may yield valuable information about how the precious gems form in natural conditions.
While the stone had a concentration of diamonds 1 million times higher than normal, the miners knew such small diamonds were pretty much worthless as gems, so they donated it to the Russian Academy of Sciences for study, LiveScience reports.
After scanning the rock with X-rays, scientists found that the diamonds inside measure just 1mm and are octahedral in shape — similar to two pyramids stuck together at the base. The red and green colouring comes from larger crystals of garnet, olivine and pyroxene.
"The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond," Larry Taylor, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, who presented the findings at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting, was quoted as saying. "It's like they formed instantaneously. This rock is a strange one indeed."
Russia is the largest diamond-producing country in the world, generating over 33 million carats last year. State-run Alrosa, the owner of Udachnaya mine, is the world's largest diamond miner, accounting for 99% of Russia’s output and 27% of global production.