Diamond Impurities and Earth's Tectonic History

Most people prefer their diamonds pure and free from imperfections. But a study of more than 4,000 inclusions (pockets of impurities) found in diamonds has revealed that Earth’s plate tectonic history began much earlier than scientists originally thought.

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General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • How and where do diamonds form?
  • Define plate tectonics.
  • What is the Wilson Cycle?
  • How do diamond impurities form? What data are contained in diamond impurities?
  • How do we know the age of the diamonds?
  • To summarize, how can diamonds tell us about plate tectonic history?
  • What is the significance of this new discovery?

Compiled July 28, 2011, by L.A. Guertin

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