Geologist Discovers Plant That May Only Grow On Top Of Soil Laden With Diamonds


There she grows!

A picky plant found in West Africa may grow only on top of mineral deposits often loaded with diamonds, according to research soon to be published in the journal Economic Geology. Stephen Haggerty, a professor at Florida International University in Miami and the chief exploration officer of Youssef Diamond Mining Company, said the discovery could be a game changer for the region.

The thorny plant, Pandanus candelabrum, only grows atop deposits of kimberlite, a type of volcanic rock found in giant underground “columns” around the world. Diamonds, formed hundreds of kilometers deep by intense heat and pressure, are pushed upward with the kimberlite during subterranean volcanic activity, resulting in gem-rich veins of rock.

Pandanus candelabrum, left, is seen in the Liberian jungle.

Until recently, there was no reliable way to locate these concentrated deposits of diamonds, which can be just a few acres in size and buried in thick, remote parts of the jungle.

Haggerty made the discovery in the bush of Liberia after venturing to the country in 2010 to continue research he began in the 1970s. He told The Huffington Post that Liberia, infamous for its trade in so-called “blood diamonds,” had extensive mining operations in place, but the miners had no real way of knowing where to look for the gems. The region is covered in dense forest “so inaccessible, you can’t see more than 10 feet in front of you,” he said.

Moving through the jungle and taking soil samples with an 8-foot steel rod, Haggerty eventually discovered a kimberlite “pipe” about 500 by 50 meters, or 1640 by 164 feet. Four diamonds, two of them around 20 carats apiece, have already been found in the soil above the pipe, according to Science magazine.

Aside from the pipe itself, Haggerty’s —> Read More