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Bling, bling.

Most diamonds come from countries other than the United States. But a recent discovery may one day provide some home-grown dazzlers.

Last October, geologists with Delta Mining and Exploration Corporation spotted a microscopic diamond in a bed of kimberlite--a rare rock in which diamonds are usually found--on a Montana field.

Diamonds form deep beneath Earth's surface. There, carbon atoms are heated and then squeezed together. This causes diamond crystals, or solids with atoms that are packed into an orderly pattern, to form.

The minerals usually remain far underground. They only rise when rare types of volcanic molten rock--called magma--explode toward Earth's surface, says George Harlow, a mineral expert at the American Museum of Natural History. After rising, the magma cools and hardens into diamond-dotted kimberlite.

It's unlikely that Delta Mining will unearth loads of diamonds in Montana. But the area experienced the volcanic events needed to bring diamonds up, says Harlow.

Did You Know?

* Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance known to humans. When pieces of this tough mineral are too flawed or small to be used in jewelry, they are often used to make drill bits. These bits are so hard that they can even chew through rock.

* Scientists have created synthetic diamonds in laboratories. But none of these diamonds have been perfect or large enough to be used in jewelry.

Resources

* Diamonds and other minerals are collected in mines. To learn more about the history and dangers of mining, see: www.msha.gov/KIDS/KIDSHP.HTM

* Learn about one of the world's largest diamonds--the Hope diamond, which weighs over 45 carats (9 grams)--here: www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmnh/hope.htm
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Earth; diamond discovery in Montana
Author:Price, Sean
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8MT
Date:Feb 7, 2005
Words:275
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