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Carbon dating diamonds

(kär'bən) Symbol CA naturally abundant, nonmetallic element that occurs in all organic compounds and can be found in all known forms of life.

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The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to each other.More than ten million compounds of carbon are known.No other element, except for hydrogen, occurs in even a fraction of that number of compounds.Carbon also occurs in a form, discovered only recently, known as fullerenes or buckyballs.Buckyball carbon holds the promise for opening a whole new field of chemistry (see accompanying sidebar).Research into natural diamonds (figure 1) has emerged over the last two decades as one of the keys to understanding the deep earth.

Analytical advances, improved geologic knowledge, and the emergence of new diamond-producing regions (such as the Slave craton of Canada) have all contributed to this change.

Archean cratons in South Africa have yielded gem diamonds such as these specimens from the GIA Museum’s Oppenheimer Student Collection. Since then, there have been significant advances in the analysis of diamonds and their mineral inclusions, in the understanding of diamond-forming fluids in the mantle, and in the relationship of diamonds to the deep geology of the continents and the convecting mantle.

It has been more than two decades since diamond ages have proven to be up to billions of years older than their host magmas of kimberlite or lamproite.

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We know a minimum of about 1 million organic components and this number increases rapidly every year.