Mineral that ‘shouldn’t exist’ found in diamond harvested from Earth’s mantle

ORAPA, Botswana — A deep-Earth diamond has yielded a mineral never detected before in nature.

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Called davemaoite, the namesake of prominent geophysicist Ho-kwang “Dave” Mao, the mineral is the first example of a high-pressure calcium silicate perovskite, or CaSiO3, found on Earth, Space.com reported.

The discovery was announced Thursday in the journal “Science.”

Unlike another form of CaSiO3, known as wollastonite, which is commonly found across the globe, davemaoite has a crystalline structure that forms only under high pressure and high temperatures in Earth’s mantle, the mainly solid layer of Earth trapped between the outer core and the crust, Space.com reported.

According to Scientific American, the discovery offers a “rare glimpse into the deep mantle and may help reveal new information about the structure of the planet” at depths of more than 410 miles, meaning geologists may soon be able to better understand how the mantle controls Earth’s plate tectonics.

The International Mineralogical Association confirmed davemaoite as a new mineral following its discovery in Orapa, Botswana, Space.com reported.

Meanwhile, davemaoite’s discovery showed that diamonds can form farther down in the mantle than previously thought, and it suggested that researchers may have found the best place to look for more new minerals from the mantle, lead author Oliver Tschauner, a mineralogist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told Live Science.

Read more at Space.com and Scientific American.