Rocks That May Contain Diamonds Found in Antarctica

Dec 17, 2013 04:38 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

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A type of rock that occasionally contains diamonds has been discovered in Antarctica for the first time, according to Reuters.

The kicker is that recovering any mineral resources from Antarctica for commercial purposes is currently banned.

"It would be very surprising if there weren't diamonds in these kimberlites," said Greg Yaxley of the Australian National University in Canberra, who led the research, according to Reuters.

The Australian-led team confirmed in a report published in the journal Nature Communications that they discovered the kimberlite deposits around Mount Meredith, in the Prince Charles Mountains in East Antarctica.

Kimberlite is a classified as a rare rock where diamonds are usually discovered. It is named after the South African town of Kimberley, according to Reuters.

"The fact they are reporting Group One kimberlites is an important one as diamonds are more likely to be found in this style of kimberlite eruption," said Dr. Teal Riley, a survey geologist from the British Antarctic Survey.

Antarctica is currently protected by a treaty that preserves the continent for scientific research and wildlife, which ranges from penguins to seals.

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which was added in 1991, bans any activity relating to the removal of mineral resources," except for scientific purposes," according to the BBC News.

"We do not know what the Treaty Parties' views will be on mining after 2041 or what technologies might exist that could make extraction of Antarctic minerals economically viable," said Dr. Kevin Hughes from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

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