The University of Arizona

Experimental shock synthesis of diamonds in a graphite gneiss

T. Kenkmann, U. Hornemann


The occurrence of diamonds in terrestrial impact craters and meteorites is related to dynamic shock loading during hypervelocity impacts. To understand the mechanism of impact diamond formation in natural rocks, shock-recovery experiments with graphite gneiss were carried out at shock pressures between 35 and 79 GPa. This is the first report on the successful shock synthesis of microdiamonds in a natural rock. Micrometer-size diamonds and a wide range of intermediate, presently unclassified, amorphous, and disordered carbon phases were observed within vesiculated biotite melts in the vicinity of relic graphite grains using microRaman spectrometry. We explain these findings by jetting mechanisms of carbon and graphite clusters, originating at the edges of graphite grains, into the very hot and volatile rich biotitic melt veins during shock loading. This environment enabled the thermally activated crystallization of diamonds during shock compression in a period of less than 0.5 ╬╝sec. Regraphitization of diamonds during pressure release was widespread and caused the formation of the amorphous to disordered carbon phases recorded frequently with microRaman spectroscopy. The surviving diamonds must have cooled down to 2000 K during the compression phase at local thermal sinks and cooler interfaces to avoid regraphitization.


Diamond;graphite;Raman spectroscopy;Shock experiment;Shock metamorphism

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