Connecting the Diamonds

Greenland's Nano-sized Crystals Match Channel Islands Discovery

Hexagonal nanodiamonds discovered on Santa Rosa Island

The discovery of trillions of microscopic diamonds in the Greenland ice sheet went public August 31, 2010. They correspond to the nano-sized gems unearthed on the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara in the summer of 2009.

The recent findings of volcanologist Andrei Kurbatov, glaciologist Paul Mayweski, and their 21-man team in Greenland were just published in the online edition of the Journal of Glaciology. The team discovered the hexagonal diamonds in a layer of extraterrestrial matter that dates back to 12,900 years ago.

Last year, the 15-man team led by UCSB professor emeritus James Kennett found nano-diamonds on Santa Rosa Island. That team uncovered the crystals in a sedimentary layer that represents the same, or close to the same, time frame.

Both the crystals in the Greenland ice sheet and on Santa Rosa Island give evidence of a cosmic impact event, although the hypothesis is unconfirmed. The age-layer also represents the same time frame when the Channel Islands’ pygmy mammoth, saber-toothed cat, and Clovis-culture humans disappeared, although further research is needed on that, too, Kennett said.


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