World-renowned geologists work with global industry to realise the value of kimberlites
While kimberlites – effectively small volcanoes – have long been the primary source of diamonds, the process by which they are formed was not fully understood. As a result, procedures used by diamond companies operated at high levels of commercial risk. The standard approach to kimberlites within the industry was historically dominated by microscopy, with very limited understanding of the volcanology and a narrow focus on the petrological aspects.
In 2003, Professor Steve Sparks, School of Earth Sciences, was approached by the diamond company De Beers to improve their knowledge and geological understanding of kimberlites and diamond formation.
This high quality geological information supports the development of De Beers’ mines, diamond resources processes and its commercial activities, while volcanological principles are now used to more effectively assess diamond grades and values. Bristol’s expertise in geological mapping has also given De Beers further insights as to where further explorations for mines can continue. The company estimates the value of the research as millions of dollars’ worth of savings.