A couple of years ago, Forbes published a famous article where the author declared that Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is literally erupting gems. Obviously, this news drew the attention of countless diamond prospectors around the world.
And honestly, the whole idea is not too far-fetched. Volcanos are connected with the deepest depths of Earth, and unstable geological areas around Hawaii could hide large deposits of diamonds underneath the crest. All the blocks are in place.
Well, unfortunately, the definite answer to the question are there diamonds in Hawaii can’t be given. There is a possibility that the region hides deposits of oil and diamonds, but as of yet, no conclusive evidence of either has been found.
Of course, this can change in the future, and Hawaii can prove to be a true diamond mine, but we still need to wait to see where things are heading. So, what about the gems Forbes talked about?
What’s Going On With The Kilauea Volcano?
Yeah, let’s get back to where these rumors started in the first place – Kilauea volcano. If you are not familiar with the geology and geography of the Hawaiian Islands, let’s quickly break these terms down for you.
What Are Volcanos?
To put it simply, volcanos are hills or mountains (usually of conical shape) that feature an opening in the ground known as a crater. These craters, in turn, are there to allow the materials warmer than their surroundings to escape from the interior. The moment these materials escape the volcano is called eruptions, and as you are probably aware, these materials are usually molten lava, dangerous rock fragments, and hot vapor.
However, not everything is all that grim.
Alongside being dangerous magma sprouting fire pits, volcanos are also a vent through which diamonds erupt from the sources that are as deep as 200 kilometers underneath the Earth’s surface.
The diamonds are usually hidden in the rare type of magma called kimberlite, which is a gas-rich potassic rock that contains a whole bunch of other minerals.
Because of this, volcanos are inherently connected to volcanos, and every eruption draws the attention of the diamond prospectors around the world. Being a rich volcanic region, Hawaiian Islands are a regular suspect for diamond deposits.
A Brief Introduction To Kilauea Volcano
Now let’s move to the main culprit of this story. Kilauea is an active shield volcano located alongside the southeastern shore of the island.
Some estimations say the volcano rose above the sea level 100,000 years ago, while its total age is speculated to sit somewhere between 210,000 and 280,000 years. Yeah, this formation is by all means ancient.
The history of this volcano was riddled with brief but devastating eruptions. The written history documents eruptions ever since the 1790s and the establishment of the colonial authorities. The latest eruptive episodes were experienced in 2018 when Kilauea caused Hawaii a great deal of property damage.
So, this is one thing to keep in mind when considering the idea of prospecting diamonds and gems in the volcanic areas – these locations are not exactly suitable for comfortable living, make a very poor place for buying a property, and can get you in danger if you are not extremely careful.
Read Also: Can Lava Destroy A Diamond?
What Are The Gems Erupted By Kilauea?
Be that as it may, during the latest eruption of the Kilauea volcano, the residents of the island started finding small, green gem particles that have been literally falling from the sky all across the region around the eruptions.
This “incident” quickly started a rumor that diamonds are falling from the sky all over Hawaii. Well, as we already mentioned in the introduction, this rumor has been quickly shut down and proven wrong. At the moment, we don’t have reliable evidence that these islands contain diamond deposits, although their presence is not entirely ruled out either.
So, what are these green gems that were falling from the Hawaiian skies?
Let’s Talk About Olivine?
Well, it turned out that the olivine crystals that were erupted from Kilauea were a common mineral called peridot. The violent eruption blew apart molten lava and allowed green olive mineral to be separated from the rest of the melt and spread out as tiny particles.
If you have ever visited Hawaii, you know this country features more than one beach painted in an olive green color. This phenomenon is caused by a high concentration of olivine weathered out from magnetic lava.
This is both very unusual and somewhat mundane at the same time. On the one hand, olivine is one of the most common minerals you can find below the Earth’s surface, so its presence shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Some estimations say that some variations of the olivine mineral make up as much as 50% of Earth’s upper mantle.
On the other, it is very hard to find olivine in such a separated state, so volcanos do a great deal of heavy lifting when it comes to making this gemstone widely available. No matter how available some mineral can be, there are very few instances you will actually see it falling from the sky above. Otherwise, olivine would have to be separated from basalt rock which is a very tiresome process.
The Properties Of Olivine
As we already mentioned above, olivine is one of the most common minerals within the Earth. So much so we can call it a prime rock-forming mineral. In spite of this, desirable pieces and huge crystals are very rare and have been uses as gemstones throughout history.
In most cases, olivine appears in the form of small grains like in the case of those we saw flying over Hawaii.
The name olivine comes from the specific olive-green color of the material, while in some cases (usually older texts and documents), we can also find the name peridot. Essentially, if you know how Kryptonite looks, you have a pretty good idea about the appearance of olivine.
If you want to look for the properties of the mineral, you should know that olivine is an umbrella term for a couple of different mineral varieties. For a quick reference, here are the names and chemical compositions of these minerals.
Being such a popular mineral, it is only expected that olivine has some practical purposes that determine its market value. And, indeed, we can find three very common uses cases for this pretty-looking green mineral.
- Gemstone – Olivine is the main building block for the gemstone called peridot. Although these terms were interchangeable, these days, olivine is used to refer to the mineral while peridot refers to the gem. Its inclusion in the world of esotery gives it sustained popularity and constant demand all around the globe.
- Earrings industry – Taking into consideration its good look, period it is very popular in the mass-manufacturing earring industry. Although not as frequent in some cases, we can find a couple of examples of using smaller granular olivine for decorating the earrings.
- Weathering – Olivine is used in one of the cheaper processes to sequester CO2 by a mineral reaction called weathering. Essentially, olivine easily reacts with CO2 from the atmosphere. When olivine is crushed, it weathers completely depending on the grain size. Here, the small size of the olivine particles we can find in places like Hawaii does come in handy.
Gemstones Vs. Diamonds
Now that we hand an opportunity to learn a couple of things about olivine and peridot Hawaiian area is admittedly rich with, let’s answer one important question – are gemstones actually diamonds?
This is a good question since both diamonds and gemstones are perfect pieces of jewels that look stunning and attractive. Some people confuse them, some people think that gemstones like sapphire, ruby, and emerald are entirely different from diamonds.
Well, to clear the confusion, diamonds are a specific type of gemstone with a couple of very interesting, unique properties. One of the most well-known of them is by far the fact that diamonds are the hardest material you can find on Earth.
Another thing important to mention for the sake of this discussion is that the primary source of diamonds is Surat, India. Only 8% of available diamonds come from regions like Australia and South Africa.
In the grand division of gemstones on precious gemstones and semi-precious gemstones, diamonds are the poster-boy precious gemstones. Peridot belongs to the more common and, therefore, less valuable group of semi-precious gemstones.
How Much Are Olivine And Peridot Worth?
This semi-precious status doesn’t mean that peridot has no worth whatsoever. On the contrary, peridot has been a prized jewelry stone ever since ancient times. These days, period stones score a pretty reasonable market price of an estimated $50 to $80 for the average size of 1 carat.
So, peridot prospecting is a pretty lucrative proposition, especially in the Hawaiian region, which is very rich in it.
What about the olivine particles that were sprouting from the Kilauea volcano? Well, here the things couldn’t be more different. Although this gem dust is used in some industrial processes, it’s not like you can get rich by handpicking it from the ground.
Bottom line, having olivine around the house is very novel, but it’s not exactly a reason to quit your job and move to Hawaii.
To sum it all up, although it is suspected that the Hawaii region is rich with diamonds, as of yet, no conclusive evidence of this has been found. Hawaii Islands are, on the other hand, very rich in olivine, or to be more precise, the gemstone called peridot.
On some occasions, Hawaii volcanoes will fire out large quantities of olivine dust, but these mineral particles can’t be sold at some profitable price. All in all, getting rich by prospecting can be achieved, but it’s not really a handpicking job some people imagine it to be.