The Jewels That Always Were There

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Pablo Edronkin

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Practically speaking, you can find all sorts of gems and valuables all around the world thanks to the monumental changes that took place over hundreds of millions of years. Of course, if what you are looking for is just to make some quick money, you would be better off playing in a casino, but with a little patience and knowledge, you can find gems and treasures almost anywhere.

Take precisely the case of gemstones and valuable minerals: geology explains how these are formed on Earth, and how various massive processes, over long periods of time may make them appear near the planet's surface, and even be reabsorbed into the crust. Diamonds sprout in such a way, and if you dig enough, you will find them in a variety of places around Earth; if you don't, not only someone will, but after a couple of millions of years, they will be re-digested by the planet, so to speak, as continental plaques move pushing things around.

During the carboniferous period, between 360 and 286 million years ago, the world was quite different, albeit roughly the same landmasses were already present. Imagine a construction site with caterpillars moving chunks of dirt around, and that's how geological processes shape our planet. Back then, most landmasses were coalescing in just on big super-continent that extending mostly in a north-south orientation. What is now the Bering Strait on its Asian side was at the north pole. Antarctica was more or less where it is now, but polar ice caps reached, in the north, as far as southern Japan - remember that Asia was tilted -, and in the southern hemisphere, they covered south America up to Sao Paulo, parts of India and Australia, and in the case of Africa, up to present-day Ethiopia.

Glaciers also push things aside, and they have a major geological influence: the fact that large carbon deposits have been found in Patagonia as well as China is no coincidence: there, lush forests in the vicinity of the outer limits of the ice caps existed. People found them there because those enormous ice fields make it possible for us to find them there.

And as carbon, things like gold, diamonds and rare minerals are being pushed from one side to the other over aeons. We seldom stop to think that even when we are lucky and find valuable things in the ground, our luck may have been determined hundreds of millions of years ago.



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