Women at the dawn of diamond discovery in Siberia or how two women discovered the Siberian diamond province

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Kiseeva, Ekaterina S.
Yuzmukhametov, Rishat N.
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The Geological Society of London
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Exploration for diamonds in the Soviet Union started in the 1940s, however it was not until the beginning of 1950s that the government acknowledged a strong need for locally mined diamonds. In this article, based on publications from Russian literature, we recount a story of two female geologists, Larisa Popugaeva and Natalia Sarsadskhih. Natalia was the head of the mineralogical laboratory who implemented a new methodology to search for mineral indicators of primary diamond deposits. Larisa was a young geologist who joined Natalia's team in 1953. The work of these women led to the discovery in 1954 of the first diamond deposit in the country – a kimberlite pipe “Zarnitsa”. In 1954 Natalia was unable to go into the field, therefore the discovery was made by Larisa. Credit for this discovery, however, was claimed by the higher officials from the Amakinskaya expedition, one of the largest diamond exploration organisations in the country. Multiple efforts to restore justice did not succeed, with Larisa only being awarded the title of the “Discoverer” in 1970, and Natalia not until 1990. This article provides a description of Larisa's and Natalia's life up until the discovery of Zarnitsa, and a few significant events after.
Diamonds , Siberia , History of discovery , Kimberlite field
Kiseeva, E. S. and Yuzmukhametov, R. N. (2020) 'Women at the Dawn of Diamond Discovery in Siberia or how Two Women Discovered the Siberian Diamond Province', in Celebrating 100 Years of Female Fellowship of the Geological Society: Discovering Forgotten Histories, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 506, pp. SP506-2020-11. doi: 10.1144/SP506-2020-11
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by The Geological Society of London. All rights reserved