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Diamonds—Are they really all that old?

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Jewellers sometimes tell awe-struck customers that diamonds have been sitting undisturbed in the ground for hundreds of millions of years, since before the time of the dinosaurs,1 just waiting to add sparkle to rings, necklaces and broaches. The British Jewellers’ Association says that all natural diamonds have existed for at least 900 million years, with the oldest specimens being 3.2 billion years old!2

These are extraordinary claims, but scientific facts indicate a different reality. It is interesting to consider the compelling evidence that all natural diamonds are actually far younger.

Fresh, unpetrified wood found entombed in diamond-bearing rock

Recently a wooden log has been discovered in Canada deep inside a ‘kimberlite pipe’.3 Kimberlite is a volcanic rock that is one of the main sources of diamonds, and is often formed in the shape of a vertical ‘pipe’ that is wider at the top like a carrot (see diagram). These pipes can be hundreds of metres across and might originate more than 150 km (over 90 miles) below the surface, in the earth’s mantle.

It is conventionally believed that diamonds themselves come from the mantle.4 They are picked up by the kimberlite magma as it blasts to the surface, forming the pipe (diagram). Thus, the diamonds are older than the kimberlite rock.

Interestingly, the wood is fresh, unfossilised (unpetrified), and was found more than 300 m (1,000 ft) deep within the diamond-bearing rock.5 The wood likely got there by locally-catastrophic forces, as kimberlite pipes are recognized as having formed quickly and violently.6

The wood was almost certainly entombed in the kimberlite during the moment that the pipe burst through the surface of the ground. The wood is not the only fresh piece of timber found—there have been other cases of fresh timber having been found in diamond-bearing rock.

The scientists report “pristine” and “exceptional” preservation of the “unpermineralized” timber deep within the kimberlite. The wood is completely woody with “genuine cellulose” present. This means that the ‘ancient’ timber, pulled straight from the rock, will burn just as easily as any ordinary wood. It has not even begun to turn into coal, but is just the same as any piece of wood you would find in a forest today.7 The presence of such fresh, unfossilised timber is a strong indication that the kimberlite rock is not millions of years old.

Carbon-14 in diamond a startling problem

Secular scientists believe that the kimberlite rock where the wood was found is 53 million years old,3 and that the diamonds themselves were formed many hundreds of millions of years earlier before being transported to the earth’s surface in the pipe. This is an interesting idea but it is stymied by some rather amazing evidence: Carbon-14 has been found within diamonds,8 which makes an age of hundreds of millions of years impossible. This is because the half-life of carbon-14 (5,730±40 years) shows that it will have fallen below detection level within 100 thousand years. Even an age of 53 million years is far too high a figure for the age of the diamonds.

The other obvious problem is that if the kimberlite rock is 53 million years old, then the wood itself must be at least as old. But it is known that cellulose breaks down extremely rapidly. It would be indeed unusual if the wood were anything more than a few thousand years old.

Diamonds form quickly

diamonds-form-quickly

These days, diamonds can be made artificially, and they are just the same as natural diamonds. They are made by the exact same processes of temperature and pressure, out of the same material, carbon. With the right machines, a power source, and the extremely common ingredient, carbon, people can make diamonds in the time it takes to wash a car.9

So it follows that natural diamonds don’t need billions of years to form. In fact, there is no reason at all for natural diamonds to take any longer to form than the ones made by people. The only reason diamonds are claimed to be billions of years old is because of a philosophical commitment to millions and billions of years. Secular scientists believe in such long ages because long time frames are a requirement for belief in evolution.10

Not so old

The ‘diamonds are forever’ saying is a clever marketing slogan used by the De Beer diamond mining company since the 1940s. The saying became popular, and naturally fed into the idea that diamonds were unimaginably old—but the evidence for this just doesn’t stack up in the light of new discoveries.

The evidence of the fresh wood in the diamond-bearing rock, and of the carbon-14 found in diamonds, is consistent with the age of natural diamonds being far younger than long-agers and evolutionists claim. It is consistent with the biblical age of the earth.

References and notes

  1. Some diamonds were likely in existence “before the dinosaurs”, because God made the earth before He made the animals. Diamonds were also formed during the intense upheavals experienced by the earth during the global Flood. Return to text.
  2. Buying Diamonds & Gemstones,bja.org.uk, accessed 22 March 2013. Return to text.
  3. Wolfe, A., Csank, A., Reyes, A., McKellar, R., Tappert, R., and Muehlenbachs, K., Pristine Early Eocene Wood Buried Deeply in Kimberlite from Northern Canada, PLoS ONE 7(9):e45537. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045537, 19 September 2012;www.plosone.org. Return to text.
  4. Although there is evidence emerging that small diamonds may be able to form much closer to the surface, in crustal rocks. See Snelling, A., Microscopic diamonds confound geologists, J. Creation 10(1):1–2, 1996; creation.com/diamonds-microscopic. Return to text.
  5. The wood of course isn’t still ‘green’—it’s fresh in the sense that it is the same as the new (dried) wood that you can buy from hardware stores or building suppliers today. It isn’t turned into stone, coal, or anything else. Return to text.
  6. Snelling, A., Diamonds—evidence of explosive geological processes, Creation 16(1):42–45, 1993; creation.com/diamonds-explosive. Return to text.
  7. The wood is from a ‘Dawn Redwood’ tree, of the genus Metasequoia (Cupressaceae). A ‘living fossil’, it was once thought to be extinct. However, in the 1940s this tree was found to still be growing, alive and well, and unchanged after (allegedly) more than 65 million years. See Werner, C., Evolution: The Grand Experiment Vol.2 – Living Fossils, New Leaf Press, Green Forest, pp. 187–189, 2008. Return to text.
  8. See for example Sarfati, J., Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend, Creation 28(4): 26–27, 2006; creation.com/diamonds. Return to text.
  9. Graphite has been turned into ultra-hard pure diamond in only minutes. See creation.com/diamonds-minutes. Return to text.
  10. This is despite the fact that creationists have shown that even billions of years won’t make any difference to the inability of natural selection and mutations to drive ‘goo to you’ evolution. The extra time is immaterial because natural selection and mutation can’t provide new or novel biological information. Return to text.

Reader’s comments

Eugene Y.
They are called synthetic diamonds or memorable diamonds. It seems like anything can be converted to diamonds under High temp. and high Pressure (also CDV). Diamonds are they stable? They have the highest refractive index. It makes me wonder how God made man from the earth and also the Curse on which we return to the earth. When our bodies return at death, it becomes part of it. It
seems like the forces of nature is under God's providence. Diamonds may look mystical but they come from the most humble recipe, carbon. I wonder whether some Pre-flood peoples may been converted to diamonds :) ?

The formation of diamond is like glass from sand. From an opaque substance to a transparent one. The thought having a part of your loved one or pet to be converted to a diamond may be an industry to cope with death. Diamonds do form fast but do geologists acknowledge such process in natural diamonds regardless where they are found?
Tas Walker
Hi Eugene, A company called LifeGem manufactures diamonds in as short as six months using the carbon found in the cremated remains of people. However, I wouldn't think that any natural diamonds on earth would be the remains of pre-flood people (see Where are all the human fossils?).
Lou N.
To say that the presence of fresh wood is evidence that the diamonds and Kimberlite is not old is either extreme ignorance, dishonesty, or blindness caused by too much zeal to justify one's beliefs. The Kimberlite was molten when it came up the pipe so the wood could not have been in it then and not been burned up. The wood had to come into the Kimberlite far later after it cooled. Our earth is an active planet and many things are possible causes.
Tas Walker
Hi Lou, I think it would be good for you to read the primary geological report in PLoS ONE, which is cited at reference 3. That report is availabe online, and you can find it by searching for its title. It documents in detail exactly where the wood was found in the kimberlite, and its state of preservation. This is all described in the above article, but you may like to check the original sources for yourself.
Phil K.
@ Felix K.: brilliant metaphor sir
Blake R.
At the website ageofrocks.com the author argued that it was nonsense to claim that diamonds can have C14 in them, because they would have come from deep inside the earth. He claims that the best assumption to make is that there was some contamination.

He says, "In case one is still convinced that these diamonds did contain intrinsic 14C, however, I must pose this question: why should natural diamonds contain any 14C, ever? Diamonds are formed deep in the mantle, far removed from the atmosphere where 14C is actually produced. To suggest that radioactive diamonds are evidence for a young Earth requires an intentional ignorance, or downright dishonesty ... ."

He makes other claims also, but the one about why there would be C14 in diamonds when they form deep in the earth, was the main one.

Thanks
Tas Walker
Ageofrocks is simply demonstrating how much his thinking is driven by his prior beliefs, and how unwilling he is to consider new evidence.

That diamonds have c-14 in them is not a claim, but an objective scientific measurement. It can be repeated, and it was.

His hypothesis that the c-14 is the result of contamination does not seem plausible because of the precautions taken by the c-14 lab, and the fact that diamond has a highly impervious mineral structure.

His question, "Why should natural diamonds contain any 14C, ever?" is a good one. It could form the basis for a profitable research effort, which could throw new light on the formation of diamonds and the structure of the earth.

However, his question does not alter the fact that careful laboratory measurements on diamonds repeatedly found carbon-14 in them. And that means that they cannot be millions of years old.
Peter P.
I often use such arguments and I've never been seriously challenged about it. But I'm lacking in background knowledge to defend myself if someone were to contradict me and argue as follows: "After about 100,000, say 20 half-lives, then there's about 1 millionth of the original C14 left: but 1 part per million is easily detectable!". How valid is that argument?
OK that's assuming pure C14 to start with. So what are the assumptions re C14 purity to start with, and what are the detectable limits.
Tas Walker
Hi Peter,

The abundance of carbon-14 in today's atmosphere is around one part per trillion. Your example of 100,000 years, say 20 half lives in round numbers, would be at or just beyond the detection limit of today's equipment. If we push the time out to a million years, or roughly 200 half lives in round numbers, there would be no carbon-14 remaining. If the whole earth was initially carbon-14 then after a million years there would not be one carbon-14 atom left. Yet, when samples of this supposed age and older are analysed for carbon-14 they turn up measurable amounts of carbon-14—much more than would be expected. This argument involving carbon-14 is applied to samples that are supposedly a million, or 100 million, or 1 billion years old.
Felix K.
Brilliant as usual.
Steve S.
"To an AMS insider, 'contaminated in situ' means simply that the 14C measured by the AMS system was intrinsic to the sample before it arrived at the laboratory; in other words, such 14C is not a result of laboratory procedures." From Dr. John Baumgardner

The evolutionists who work with accelerator mass spectrometers know that c14 is routinely found when it should have decayed away. They mask the problem with their lingo and have no solution.

It's sad that only one model based on the religion of atheism is the only one allowed on earth. It wasn't too long ago the biblical model was the most popular. But just like in the days of Noah, man's wickedness increased (the measure), and God will globally judge this world again.
michael S.
Couldn't evolutionists just say, "okay, so the diamonds and wood happen to be young in this instance, but that doesn't equate to the whole record being young?"

That would be their response, but obviously we have a growing induction of cases where it seems plain that the subject is young, such as the fresh T-Rex tissue. The more the induction builds up, of all types of things that are supposed to be old, the better this will be for creation because then we can say, "we can example over a broad spectrum of so called 'history', many types of young evidence." It is interesting to me that there are more and more examples of young-evidence, but evidence does not deter the evolutionist, because they will say through conjecture that the evidence fits evolution. It's a kind of psychological denial, even a spiritual denial, I come across in people. Their brow turns furrowed, the close-up, and you can almost see that the picture would be complete if they physically put their fingers in their ears. At the very least, a genuinely intellectual evolutionist should concede that there is evidence that very much fits with what the bible says.

"Oh God, how can you mislead me, you say animals reproduce according to kind, and here I find a pine-fossil that looks like a modern pine, which clearly means that the pine is related to the flea on a phylogenetic tree. Oh how could you trick me like this, how could you let a pine becoming a pine show an evolution like this."

;-)
Bill H.
This article goes hand in hand with your article Diamonds in days (actually minutes).
Julie M.
So... can we get the retailers for false advertising???

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