Best Website for Herkimer Diamond Information
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Free Website Where Herkimer Diamond Enthusiasts Share Information with the Public
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Dr.C. did two talks at the Herkimer Diamond Festival (July)which are in a Youtube movie. The research on the Herkimer District is in need of samples and photos.
How can you help? Visit the "how to help" page.
Old Ideas about How Herkimer Diamonds Formed
The internet has opened the door to all kinds of opinions and ideas about Herkimer diamonds. "Stories" and "statements" about how Herkimer diamonds were formed are scattered about the world wide web. This page will seek to discuss some of what has been posted on the internet and to address some of the misconceptions.
The new "oil migration and seed crystal theory" can be found by clicking explanation above.
W. David Hoisington, Ph.D.
There are many different sites on the internet that promote and offer views about how Herkimer diamonds were formed. Some present information that is simply false. For example saying that Herkimer diamonds formed in volcanic rock (so not true) or that algae created stromatolites (not exactly true) or that Herkimer diamonds were made from dolomite (not true) or that the pockets and crystals are related to magma (a statement made on Wikipedia that was edited 11/12/09) which is misleading.
Most of the information presented about how Herkimer diamonds were formed is based on a particular theory, or idea. What is nice about ideas in geology is that they can be "put to the test". What this means is that the ideas need to match ALL the evidence, both from the field and the lab. Since the mid-1990's new evidence has been appearing every year and often new evidence can make a difference when it comes to geologic theory. The old laboratory evidence of the 1950's and 1960's (which is what some of the internet pubished theories are based upon) needs to be reexamined in the light of improved technology. In addition, currently field work is being done in the Herkimer Mining District in order to gather more information that can be used to support an updated theory for the origin of Herkimer diamonds. Every summer additions are made to the website (see updates link top of this page), providing more new evidence.
There are some "old" theories out there no longer apply, given the new information that has been discovered. The theory that Herkimer diamonds were formed when the original rock was being formed under the ocean (called sygenetic) is no longer a valid theory - regardless of what explanation one attempts to use to describe the processes responsible for making Herkimer diamonds under such conditions. The idea that the black carbon and pocket layers are controlled by "algae mats" that were formed 500 million years ago is just not likely to be true. The idea that the quartz/hydrocarbon interaction happened during rock formation is not likely to be true. There is too much evidence to support the theory that Herkimer diamonds formed from migrating fluids entering into the rock AFTER it was solidified, uplifted, eroded, burried, and fault broken. The discovery of quartz crystal spheres (2009) is added support that oil and Herkimer diamonds are linked together in this post-depositional history. The black carbon material is, most likely, degraded petroleum and thus should be called hydrocarbon (replacing the over applied term anthraxolite). The one thing both theories do agree on is that hydrocarbons influenced the formation of Herkimer Diamonds.
Some theories suggest a link between stromatolites (or other ancient life), the black carbon and the Herkimer diamonds in a model that suggests the crystals were made during rock formation . This theory was published in the 1980s and resurected in a book on Herkimer Diamonds in 2014. But this link needs to be examined closely. The origin is not likely to be one tied to the original time of the stromatolite formation or to some processes occuring during rock deposition. The association of Herkimer Diamonds to its host rock is a structural one (increase in holes or porosity and fault proximity) that helped mineral producing fluids move through the rock some time after the stromatolites were consolidated into rock. There is significant evidence for this and not just in the Herkimer mining (hydrocarbon) district, but in other mining (hydrocarbon) districts occuring in Cambrian carbonates as well as in other Cambrian stromatolite-bearing strata throughout the world.
One of the most important field relationships is the association between black carbon material (called hydrocarbon) and clear crystals. Any theory must explain this and the associated features that are found throughout the Herkimer mining district. The old theories have been inadequate at doing so. The oil and seed crystal theory seems to best fit the evidence. See also FAQ page .
New "science" evidence is presented on the science page (see links at the top of the page). There is also new field evidence (see links to Herkimers and minerals top of the page). All this new information needs to be considered when constructing a theory that describes how Herkimer diamonds were formed - click on Explanation at the top of the page.
Click for photo source
If you have any "ideas" on how Herkimer diamonds were formed. or any questions, then just pass them along by email. Or you can go to the community site by clicking on the community button at the top of the page.