Radiation-induced diamond crystallization: Origin of carbonados and its implications on meteorite nano-diamonds
Ten carbonados from Central Africa were studied for U-Th-Pb systematics. To extract U, Th, and Pb from the samples, we developed a cold combustion technique wherein diamond was burnt in liquid oxygen. The technique gave low blanks; 25-50 pg for Pb, 3 pg for U, and 5 pg for Th. After very thorough acid treatments of the carbonados with hot HNO 3, HF, and HCl over one week, most of U, Th, and Pb were removed from the samples. Lead in the acid-leached diamonds was highly radiogenic ( 206Pb/ 204Pb up to 470). However, the amounts of U and Th in the acid-leached diamonds are too low to account for the radiogenic Pb even if we assume 4.5 Ga for the age of the diamonds. Therefore, we conclude that the radiogenic Pb was implanted into the diamonds from surroundings by means of recoil energy of radioactive decays of U and Th. From the radiogenic lead isotopic composition, we estimate a minimum age of 2.6 Ga and a maximum age of 3.8 Ga for the formation of the carbonados. The above findings of the implantation of recoiled radiogenic Pb into carbonados is consistent with the process of radiation-induced crystallization which was proposed for carbonado by Kaminsky (1987). We show from some theoretical considerations that when highly energetic particles, such as those emitted from radioactive decay of U and Th, interact with carbonaceous materials, they give rise to cascades of atomic disturbance (over regions of about a few nanometer), and the disturbed atoms are likely to recrystallize to form micro-diamonds because of increasing surface energy due to small size. The radiation-induced diamond formation mechanism may be relevant to the origin of nano-diamonds in primitive meteorites.