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Strange Rock from Russia Contains 30,000 Diamonds

Here's the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything: A red and green rock, ornament-sized, stuffed with 30,000 teeny-tiny diamonds. The sparkly chunk was pulled from Russia's huge Udachnaya diamond mine and donated to science (the diamonds' tiny size means they're worthless as gems). It was a lucky break for researchers, because the diamond-rich rock is a rare find in many ways, scientists reported Monday (Dec. 15) at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. "The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond," said Larry Taylor, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who presented the findings. "It's like they formed instantaneously." The concentration of diamonds in the rock is millions of times greater than that in typical diamond ore, which averages 1 to 6 carats per ton, Taylor said. A carat is a unit of weight (not size), and is roughly equal to one-fifth of a gram, or 0.007 ounces. The astonishing amount of diamonds, and the rock's unusual Christmas coloring, will provide important clues to Earth's geologic history as well as the origin of these prized gemstones, Taylor said. "The associations of minerals will tell us something about the genesis of this rock, which is a strange one indeed," he said. Although diamonds have been desired for centuries, and are now understood well enough to be recreated in a lab, their natural origins are still a mystery. via LiveScience

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