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Diamonds – a dream or reality in Manipur

by Herojit Nongmaithem
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In the last couple of days, Diamonds are becoming the talk of the town specially in north eastern states of India. News of occurrences of diamonds at Wakching village in Mon District of Nagaland has been a wildfire thing through various social media platforms-whatapp and facebook, print and electronic media. As the legendary actor; Sean Connery-James Bond Movie reads “Diamonds are forever” the possibility of occurrence of diamond in our north eastern states still feels uncertain.

After several reports, photographs and viral videos of occurrence of diamonds in Nagaland, the state authority ordered a thorough probe to its reality. Nagaland state officials inspected and denied those crystals as diamonds. The harsh reality of diamonds at Wakching village reveals that those crystals happen to be ordinary quartz crystals. For reader’s digest, the quartz crystals are very common and do occur abundantly throughout the globe and in many parts of Manipur as well. Let’s quickly have a comparison on the similarities and differences between quartz and diamonds. Both are crystal forms and sometimes it’s intriguing to differentiate between the two.  Some quartz varieties are coined as Herkimer Diamonds due to its uniqueness and similar properties with that of diamonds. Herkimer Diamonds are brilliant, water-clear crystals show the classic 18-sided, doubly terminated hexagonal form. Diamonds form into octahedrons (two pyramids stuck together at the base) while quartz forms into hexagonal columns with a pointed tip. A diamond is much harder than quartz and the chemical formula is C and is composed of carbons whereas for quartz, it’s SiO2 and made of silicone dioxide. Diamonds are isometric whereas quartz is hexagonal and diamonds have a greasy lustre whereas quartz can have vitreous, resinous and dull lustre.
 It’s not that hard or either costly to test whether a substance is diamond or any other crystal. The stone that scratches the glass without showing any damage to the crystal is diamond while quartz will abrade the glass but it will also get bruised down. Diamond conducts heat much better than quartz. A refractor will quantify the refractive index of diamond (2.417–2.419) and that of diamond (1.45–1.46).
Conventionally diamonds are reported from the older and cratonic rocks around the world.  These diamonds are hosted by certain rocks called kimberlites, lamproites which are characterised by high pressure and temperature. Though such rocks are not found in Manipur-Nagaland, scientific reports and experts’ view hold the possibility occurrences of diamonds in the Indo-Myanmar ranges covering the large portions of Manipur and Nagaland.  These rocks are so called the ophiolite suite of rocks which are deep seated ocean rocks that got obducted over the continental rocks. A rational rough estimate approximately about 8% of the total exposed surface is covered by ophiolites in our state. During the 90’s Bai and party (1993) reported occurrences of diamonds in many areas in ophiolite rocks. Yang and party (2014) in their study have confirmed the common presence of microdiamonds in both ophiolitic peridotites and chromitites from different localities in China, Russia, and Myanmar. Nayak and Meyer (2017) reproduced the magenilmenite, a possible indicator of microdiamonds in Pokhpur area, Nagaland.
Owing to the above scientific theories, the states of Manipur and Nagaland have enough ophiolite rocks that can host microdiamonds. These won’t be big enough as those of the Wangching village. Studies are on by different organisations to unravel these oceanic, deep seated rocks. The dream to quench the thrust of finding microdiamonds won’t be that long. Let’s hope for a bright reality where our state is endowed with natural resources and we can endeavour to utilize them to the fullest.

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