Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asian rubies come always with marble and salt

30.01.2004


Ruby is mineralogically the chromiferous variety of corundum gemstone, in other words an aluminium oxide in which some of the aluminium ions have been substituted by chromium. Chromium contributes, along with vanadium, another metal constituent of ruby, to the crystal’s red colour. The most prized ruby deposits are those of Central and South-East Asia, like in the celebrated Mogok deposit in Myanmar (ex-Burma), from which the highest gem-quality rubies are extracted, reputed for their intense “pigeon blood” colour and their transparency.

In spite of their commercial interest, these deposits have attracted little geological research. However, they possess a special feature that have stimulated the interest of the IRD and CRPG/CNRS scientists for several years. The ruby crystals they hold are always present as inclusions in marble formations, which are calcareous rocks altered by high temperature. Research projects have been launched to determine in particular the origin of certain major constituents of the ruby which are usually absent from marbles—mainly aluminium, chromium and vanadium—, unravel the mechanisms of formation of these deposits, their age and their significance in the functioning of deep zones of the Earth’s crust. Combination of field data and results of laboratory geochemical analyses on samples taken from different deposits recorded from Afghanistan to Viet Nam, the team succeeded in establishing a new genetic model, valid for the whole of these deposits where ruby is associated with marble.

Ruby crystals form at high temperature, between 620 and 670°C. Dating of minerals contemporary with their growth, such as zircon and mica, performed in the different deposits gave the age of the ruby crystallization. Depending on the deposits, this was found to be 40 to 5 million years B.P., in the Cenozoic. The ruby is thus an excellent geological marker of the collision between the Indian and the Eurasian plates which set off the Himalayan uplift.



Analysis of liquid inclusions trapped by the rubies during crystallization revealed the participation of feeder fluids riches in salts and carbon dioxide, source of which has been defined by using their chemical composition. They result from the high-temperature solution of salts contained in evaporite-bearing beds which are found in the impure marbles of Central and South-East Asia, rich in clays and organic matter. These fluids were subsequently set in motion under the influence of tectonic pressures linked to the collision of continental plates. Their interaction with the marbles caused chemical reactions which freed aluminium and chromophor elements of the ruby, like le chromium or vanadium. These elements, initially held in only trace quantities in these rocks, were shown to be mobile in sufficient quantity to produce ruby in this geological setting. Dissolution of salts from the evaporite beds led within the marble to the creation of cavities in which very pure rubies, with well developed faces, were able to develop. Contrary to what theoretical models elaborated up to now would suggest, the proposed model shows the involvement of salts and mineralizing fluids of metamorphic origin, the mineralization of the rubies taking place in the heart of the marble formations.

This model, which is new for natural ruby, proves to be close to the molten salts method used in industry for aluminium production.

The presence of evaporites is therefore a key element for explaining these ruby mineralizations. It is a sign for the carrying rock of a primary environment of a particular nature, the “lagoon” type where sedimentation took place in close relation with the ocean. Their existence inside the marble formations is still, moreover, rare, which fits the very small number of deposits recorded and their small geographical spread. For the partner countries that are mining these deposits, this model brings information about the history, the structure and the geochemistry of these ruby formations, knowledge which is essential for conducting new prospecting campaigns in these regions of Asia

Marie Guillaume | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ird.fr/us/actualites/fiches/2003/index.htm

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents
12.12.2017 | Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

nachricht How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation

12.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>