Discovery of diamonds in small rock sample hints at possibility of new deposits in area similar to world’s richest gold mine in South Africa — ScienceDaily
The presence of diamonds in an outcrop atop an unrealized gold deposit in Canada’s Far North mirrors the association found above the world’s richest gold mine, according to University of Alberta research that fills in blanks about the thermal conditions of Earth’s crust three billion years ago.
“The diamonds we have found so far are small and not economic, but they occur in ancient sediments that are an exact analog of the world’s biggest gold deposit — the Witwatersrand Goldfields of South Africa, which has produced more than 40 per cent of the gold ever mined on Earth,” said Graham Pearson, researcher in the Faculty of Science and Canada Excellence Research Chair Laureate in Arctic Resources.
“Diamonds and gold are very strange bedfellows. They hardly ever appear in the same rock, so this new find may help to sweeten the attractiveness of the original gold discovery if we can find more diamonds.”
Pearson explained that ex-N.W.T. Geological Survey scientist Val Jackson alerted his group to an unusual outcropping on the Arctic coast that has close similarities to the Witwatersrand gold deposits.
Pearson said this outcrop of rocks, known as conglomerates, are basically the erosion product of old mountain chains that get deposited in braided river channels.
“They’re high-energy deposits that are good at carrying gold, and they’re good at carrying diamonds,” he said. “Our feeling was if the analogies are that close, then maybe there are diamonds in the Nunavut conglomerate also.”
Pearson said finding new diamond deposits in Canada’s North is critical in Canada continuing to host a $2.5-billion-per-year diamond mining industry.
So, on a hunch, Pearson used the last of his Canada Excellence Research Chair funding that brought him to the U of A, along with funding from the Metal Earth Project and the National Science Foundation, and