A geologist discovered a plant (the Pandanus candelabrum) growing in a diamond-rich medium only. This finding might help locating diamond deposits. The study has been published in the journal Economic Geology.
The Pandanus candelabrum, growing in diamond-rich kimberlite soils only. Photo credits: Stephen Haggerty.
A researcher from Florida International University discovered that the plant species Pandanus candelabrum’s best friend is none other than precious diamond! As a matter of fact, geologist Stephen E. Haggerty has found that the plant in question only flourishes in soils that contain diamonds.
The plant was found above kimberlite pipes which are geological formations rich in minerals like potassium and phosphorus, and known for bringing up materials like diamond from the inside of the Earth. They are remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions.
“It sounds like a very good fertilizer, which it is,” said Haggerty in a statement.
Haggerty was initially looking for the kimberlite pipes in Liberia when he came across the plant with expensive taste. When he did find a new kimberlite pipe, he observed a particular plant appearing to grow only on top of the latter, the Pandanus candelabrum.
“It’s a brilliant observation, particularly in a heavily forested area that’s difficult to do exploration in,” says Karin Olson Hoal, a diamond geologist at the Colorado School of Mines.
Now, Haggerty intends to understand how the plant takes in nutrients from the soil. More specimens of the plant will also have to be searched. Spotting them from satellite images is the next step. The plant might then be an indication of the presence of diamond deposits.
Furthermore, mining diamonds from kimberlite mines will be more environment-friendly because they are narrow and thus damage the ecosystem to a lesser extent than traditional mining.
Hunting for kimberlite mines will also be helpful to glean information concerning the heat and pressure conditions of the mantle of the Earth millions of years ago. Moreover, the diamonds themselves being 3 billion years old would provide more insight into the distant past of our planet.