The southern German town of Nördlingen has a remarkably interesting history.
“Fifteen million years ago, a huge asteroid hit this region. Coincidentally, it was the same diameter as the old town center of Nördlingen, which is one kilometer. It slammed into the Earth at an incredible 70,000 km/h. Because of the very high energy, a crater with a diameter of 25 kilometers formed in the area,” geologist Gisela Pösges of the Ries Geopark told in an interview to BBC.
The asteroid’s impact with Earth created an unusual type of rock called suevite.
The immense pressure and heat created tons of tiny diamonds that were embedded into this rock.
Suevite is a rock whose formation process was only discovered in 1960, according to Wikipedia. The rock belongs to the group impactites, in which the porphyritic (glassy) structure was created by the original rock melting at the high temperature and pressure produced by the impact with a meteorite. The name ‘suevite’ comes from the place where this type of rock was discovered (Nördlinger Ries in Schwaben), whose Latin name is Suevia.
In our days, about 72,000 tons of diamonds are hidden in buildings in Nördlingen, which were built from stones brought from the meteorite impact zone. Because of this, some of the building facades have an unbelievably beautiful glow.
But the diamond pieces are far too small to interest treasure hunters.
“Because the pressure that led to the creation of diamonds was very short-lived, the diamonds are super small. They are extremely valuable from a scientific point of view but cannot be of economic interest. It is not worth, from an economic point of view, to mine them,” Gisela Pösges explained to BBC.