The discovery of diamonds in metamorphic rocks of continental affinities occurred shortly after the discovery of coesite in similar rocks. These important discoveries led to a revolution in our understanding of the subduction and exhumation of continental materials and the establishment of a new discipline, ultra-high-pressure metamorphism (UHPM). After these discoveries more ultra-high pressure (UHP) minerals were found and dozens of UHPM terranes were established. Diamond is a remarkable material which is chemically inert and stable over geological timescales making it the perfect “geological container” where gas, fluid, and solid inclusions can be preserved. Moreover, its presence is indicative of specific pressure and temperature conditions which implies subduction to a minimum depth of ~120 km. The inclusions trapped inside these diamonds can shed light on the composition, redox state, and evolution of the fluids related to UHPM diamond formation while the carbon isotope ratios of the diamond itself can inform us about the source of carbon. The purpose of this review is to provide a brief history on the discovery of microdiamonds starting with work that began in the mid-1960s in Kokchetav massif, Kazakhstan, through to the present day. Particular attention will be on more recent micro-diamond discoveries in the last decade. The current state of understating of the mechanisms of UPHM diamond formation, the misidentification of microdiamonds due to contamination from sample extraction/preparation, and the future of UHPM diamond research are discussed. The paper also considers the controversial topic of the occurrence of lonsdaleite within the population of microdiamonds from UHPM terranes as well as recently reported ophiolite- and volcanic-hosted diamonds.
Authors: Larissa F. Dobrzhinetskaya, Earl F. O’Bannon III and Hirochika Sumino
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