The Sassy Scientist – Diamonds Are Forever

The Sassy Scientist – Diamonds Are Forever

Jade feels uncomfortable as she glides across the multi-faceted piazza of Earth sciences. Sometimes parents should think a tad longer about prospective names for their progeny, especially in case they push them into the world of minerals, rocks and equations-of-state. With all the facts on jade in her back-pocket, Jade wonders whether she should brush up and expand her knowledge:

What is your favourite mineral?

Dear Jade,

Diamond. No doubt. Forget about life. Forget about the little things like climate change and the carbon cycle. Definitely forget about pencils. This is what carbon is all about. It’s what crystal structure is all about. It’s what being hard is all about. It’s what taking the heat is all about. It’s what being tough is all about. It’s what they would use to cut out that block of marble at Carrara before you can carefully chisel my unparalleled likeness out of it. Diamonds, they’re simply unmatched.

So, besides the industrial applications for cutting and polishing, we mustn’t forget about the peculiar presence diamonds behold in Earth sciences. What are diamonds doing at the Earth’s surface? For a mineral originating at mantle depths (within, and well below, the depth range of a ‘normal’ lithosphere), how come they are so widespread across the Earth’s surface (in limited quantities of course)? Should they really be here? Shouldn’t they disintegrate over some time? And what about the magmatic delivery system? Are we talking existential links to LLSVP’s? Are we talking a plume delivery system? Are we talking plume-induced magmatism? Are we talking subduction-enriched magmatism? Are we talking mantle delamination? Are we talking spontaneous mantle lithosphere (craton edge) magma formation and expulsion? I forget which seminal paper has explained this satisfactory. Oh wait, there isn’t one! How come all of our 4D, thermo-mechanical, fluid flow, Stokes’, visco-elasto-plastic, multi-power-law, equations-of-state-driven, super-fancy, mind-blowing, finger-bleeding, eye-wateringly complex, numerical methods have not yet given us an answer on these questions? Does nobody care about diamonds? Anyone?

One more thing about diamonds before I forget. Besides the fact they’re pretty of course. Oh, so pretty. They deserve the undivided attention of anyone pottering around geodynamics. How do you think any of the equations-of-state were determined? How do you think any power-law is constructed? The only reason the discipline of rock mechanics is of any interest for the geodynamics community is the fact they’re the only ones who can create mantle conditions: the diamond anvil cell being the culprit in the murder mystery of mineral destruction. In awe of such mastery of the laws of nature, playing God in their little cellars full of rock samples, with their stylish white lab coats and flashy safety goggles, I salute those in the realm of high pressure-high temperature experiments. At least they’ve realized the true potential diamonds can bring into the world of Earth sciences. Whereas we mere geodynamicists are pitifully lacking behind, there’s so much to discover still. Sway your thoughts on diamonds, away from a constituent of jewelry to a constituent of geodynamics research. Still pretty…

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: The post was written with a little sparkle in my eyes.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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