The crater is 300 km (190 mi) east from the outpost of Khatanga and 880 km (550 mi) northeast of the city of Norilsk, NNE of the Anabar Plateau. It is designated by UNESCO as a Geopark, a site of special geological heritage. There is a small possibility that the Popigai impact crater may have formed simultaneously with the approximately 35-million-year-old Chesapeake Bay and Toms Canyon impact craters.
For decades the Popigai crater has fascinated paleontologists and geologists, but the entire area was completely off limits because of the diamonds found there. However, a major investigatory expedition was undertaken in 1997, which greatly advanced understanding of the enigmatic structure. The impactor in this event has been identified as either an 8 km (5.0 mi) diameter chondriteasteroid, or a 5 km (3.1 mi) diameter stony asteroid.
The shock pressures from the impact instantaneously transformed graphite in the ground into diamonds within a 13.6 km (8.5 mi) radius of the impact point. These diamonds are usually 0.5 to 2 mm (0.020 to 0.079 in) in diameter, though a few exceptional specimens are 10 mm (0.39 in) in size. The diamonds not only inherited the tabular shape of the original graphite grains but they additionally preserved the original crystals' delicate striations.
Popigai diamonds are about 1 mm in size and consist of nanodiamond agglomerates.
Most modern industrial diamonds are produced synthetically. The diamond deposits at Popigai have not been mined because of the remote location and lack of infrastructure, and are unlikely to be competitive with synthetic diamonds. Many of the diamonds at Popigai contain crystallinelonsdaleite, an allotrope of carbon that has a hexagonal lattice. Pure, laboratory-created lonsdaleite is up to 58% harder than ordinary diamonds. These types of diamonds are known as "impact diamonds" because they are thought to be produced when a meteorite strikes a graphite deposit at high velocity. They may have industrial uses but are unsuitable as gems.
Additionally, carbon polymorphs even harder than lonsdaleite have been discovered in the crater. Multiply-twinned[clarification needed] diamond and lonsdaleite biphase found in Skalnoe deposit of Popigai astrobleme reveals the origin of high bulk moduli.[clarification needed]
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^Masaitis, Victor L. (2003). Popigai Crater: General Geology. Springer. pp. 81–85. ISBN 978-3-540-43517-4.
^ abDeutsch, Alexander; Christian Koeberl (2006). "Establishing the link between the Chesapeake Bay impact structure and the North American tektite strewn field: The Sr-Nd isotopic evidence". Meteoritics & Planetary Science. 41 (5): 689–703. Bibcode:2006M&PS...41..689D. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2006.tb00985.x.
^Armstrong, Richard; S. Vishnevsky; C. Koeberl (2003). U-Pb Analysis of zircons from the Popigai impact structure, Russia: First Results. Springer. pp. 99–116. ISBN 978-3-540-43517-4.
^"Russia's Popigai Meteor Crash Linked to Mass Extinction". June 13, 2014.
^ abcDeutsch, Alexander; V.L. Masaitis; F. Langenhorst; R.A.F. Grieve (2000). "Popigai, Siberia—well preserved giant impact structure, national treasury, and world's geological heritage". Episodes. 23 (1): 3–12. doi:10.18814/epiiugs/2000/v23i1/002.
^Ohfuji, Hiroaki; Irifune, Tetsuo; Litasov, Konstantin D.; Yamashita, Tomoharu; Isobe, Futoshi; Afanasiev, Valentin P.; Pokhilenko, Nikolai P. (2015). "Natural occurrence of pure nano-polycrystalline diamond from impact crater". Scientific Reports. 5: 14702. Bibcode:2015NatSR...514702O. doi:10.1038/srep14702. PMC4589680. PMID26424384.
^ ab"Diamonds Beneath the Popigai Crater -- Northern Russia". geology.com. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
^ ab"Russia declassifies deposit of impact diamonds". ITAR-TASS. 17 September 2012. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
^Pan, Zicheng; Sun, Hong; Zhang, Yi & Chen, Changfeng (2009). "Harder than Diamond: Superior Indentation Strength of Wurtzite BN and Lonsdaleite". Physical Review Letters. 102 (5): 055503. Bibcode:2009PhRvL.102e5503P. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.055503. PMID19257519. Lay summary – Physorg.com (12 February 2009).
^Pros and cons of extraterrestrial diamonds Archived 2014-12-22 at the Wayback Machine, from "Rough&Polished–information and analytics on diamond and jewellery markets."
^El Goresy, Ahmed; Dubrovinsky, Leonid S; Gillet, Philippe; Mostefaoui, Smail; Graup, Günther; Drakopoulos, Michael; Simionovici, Alexandre S; Swamy, Varghese; Masaitis, Victor L (2003). "A new natural, super-hard, transparent polymorph of carbon from the Popigai impact crater, Russia". Comptes Rendus Geoscience. 335 (12): 889. Bibcode:2003CRGeo.335..889E. doi:10.1016/j.crte.2003.07.001.
^Baek, Woohyeon; Gromilov, Sergey A.; Kuklin, Artem V.; Kovaleva, Evgenia A.; Fedorov, Alexandr S.; Sukhikh, Alexander S.; Hanfland, Michael; Pomogaev, Vladimir A.; Melchakova, Iuliia A.; Avramov, Paul V.; Yusenko, Kirill V. (2019-03-13). "Unique Nanomechanical Properties of Diamond–Lonsdaleite Biphases: Combined Experimental and Theoretical Consideration of Popigai Impact Diamonds". Nano Letters. 19 (3): 1570–1576. Bibcode:2019NanoL..19.1570B. doi:10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b04421. ISSN 1530-6984. PMID30735045.