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3.4 b. Diamonds from the Lappajärvi impact crater, Finland: origin by solid-state transformation (F. Langenhorst, in collaboration with V.L. Masaitis, G. Shafranovsky/St. Petersburg and M. Koivisto/Espoo)

Natural diamonds may form by a variety of mechanisms prevailing in different geological regimes. Besides the "classic" mechanism of formation in Earth´s mantle, radiation-induced formation in uranium-bearing carbonaceous materials, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and martensitic shock transformation are recognized or, at least, have recently been suggested as additional formation mechanisms. Shock-transformed diamonds have been found in special groups of meteorites (ureilites, iron meteorites) and some terrestrial impact structures such as the Ries, Popigai, and Sudbury craters. The recent discoveries of diamonds in the Ries and at the K/T-boundary have triggered a debate on whether impact diamonds are formed by condensation and/or solid-state transformation. In this context, we report here the first discovery of impact diamonds in a fennoscandian crater, Lake Lappajärvi, a deeply eroded impact structure in Finland.

The diamond grains have been extracted from suevites and kärneites, i.e., impact melt breccias reflecting the highest degree of shock metamorphism. In order to understand their formation mechanism and subsequent thermal history, these grains have been studied by X-ray, optical and electronoptical (SEM and TEM) techniques.

Optical microscopy shows that the diamond grains have variable colour (white, pale yellow, grey, and rarely black) and are thin flakes with diameters < 100 µm and thicknesses < 20 µm. Debye-Scherrer X-ray diffraction techniques reveal only one broad and continuous (111)-reflection line of diamond at 2.06 Å. The continuity of the reflection line suggests the polycrystallinity of the grains, whereas the absence of further X-ray peaks and distinct X-ray line broadening both attest to the poor crystallinity of the diamond aggregates. Detailed X-ray line broadening analysis yields the small size of coherently diffracting diamond crystallites in these grains with an average size of 280 Å. According to SEM observations, approximately 75% of the tabular diamond flakes show strong corrosion of surfaces with a fine pitted relief (Fig. 3.4-2); the remaining fraction exhibits smooth surfaces. Corroded grains additionally show distinct striations on the surfaces, which probably are remnants of twin lamellae in the precursor mineral graphite. At high magnification, individual small (< 100 nm) diamond crystallites with a shape resembling elongated hexagons are visible on the corroded surfaces. TEM observations corroborate the presence of these diamond crystallites, arranged in the form of thin (< 100 - 200 nm) twin bands. In electron-transparent regions close to the original surface of corroded diamond grains amorphous carbon is observed in addition. Diffuse scattering in electron diffraction patterns and C K edge ELNES spectra give evidence for the coating of diamond grains with amorphous carbon. The ELNES spectra are characterized by the presence of the * peak at 285 eV, a signal which is absent in pure diamond.

Fig. 3.4-2: SEM image of a tabular diamond grain from Lake Lappajärvi, Finland. The roughness of the surface is due to corrosion in melt. Deep grooves are regions of pronounced corrosion.

In conclusion, the tabular morphology and inherited twin bands provide evidence for the direct solid-state transformation of these diamonds from graphite. The variation from uncorroded to corroded grains likely reflects the heterogeneous distribution in post-shock temperatures with peak temperatures in the melt particles and, hence, strong corrosion of diamond aggregates in melt inclusions of the impact breccias. The coating of corroded diamonds with amorphous carbon likely results from strong corrosion in the surrounding impact melt.

Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Universität Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Deutschland
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