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Creation 36(2):22–23, April 2014

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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.