(ORDO NEWS) — Near the surface of Mercury there may be many diamonds. This suggestion was made by Kevin Cannon of the Colorado School of Mines on March 10 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.
“The pressure wave from impacting asteroids and comets can transform graphite into diamond,” says Cannon. “So there could be a lot of diamonds near the surface.”
Diamond is an allotropic form of carbon that is formed at high pressure from other forms, such as graphite. Scientists calculated that when young Mercury was covered in oceans of magma, a layer of graphite floated on top of them.
In addition, Mercury experienced twice the intensity of the Late Heavy Bombardment – a period of large numbers of meteorites falling 4.1-3.8 billion years ago.
Cannon modeled the effects of frequent asteroid impacts on the upper 20 kilometers of Mercury’s crust over billions of years.
According to his calculations, a layer of graphite could reach a hundred meters, and the impact pressure of asteroids would be enough to turn 30-60 percent of this layer into diamonds.
In favor of the possibility of this, the finds on Earth of many diamond-bearing meteorites, such as Almahata Sitta, which fell on the Nubian desert in 2008, also speak.
It will be possible to test this hypothesis in 2025, after the arrival of the European-Japanese apparatus BepiColombo with many cameras and spectrometers to Mercury.
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