Updated: 19/09/12 : 07:46:22Printable Version
Russian scientists have revealed that they kept secret a huge deposit of diamonds beneath a gigantic meteorite crater in Siberia for decades.
They claim that the 60-mile wide Popigai crater in eastern Siberia contains "many trillions of carats" of so-called "impact diamonds" - stones good for technological purposes, not for jewellery.
The scientists, from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the diamond source is bigger than any known reserve in the world.
They are calling for it to be dug up now for the benefits it could bring to industries.
The deposit was first discovered by Soviet scientists in the 1970s, but was left unexplored as the Soviet leadership chose to produce synthetic diamonds for industrial use.
It remained classified until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Nikolai Pokhilenko, the head of the Geological and Mineralogical Institute in Novosibirsk, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the diamonds found in Popigai include special molecular forms of carbon.
This means they could be twice as hard as conventional diamonds and therefore have superlative industrial qualities.
Mr Pokhilenko said that the diamonds owed their unparalleled hardness to the enormous pressure and high temperatures created by the explosion when a giant meteorite hit the area 35 million years ago.
The institute is planning to send an expedition to the crater in co-operation with Russia's state-controlled diamond mining company Alrosa.