Oldest piece of Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old


spaminator
+2
#1
Oldest piece of Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old
Will Dunham, Reuters
First posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 04:54 PM EST | Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 05:01 PM EST
WASHINGTON – To put it mildly, this is one gem of a gem.
Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday, the researchers said the discovery indicates that Earth’s crust formed relatively soon after the planet formed and that the little gem was a remnant of it.
John Valley, a University of Wisconsin geoscience professor who led the research, said the findings suggest that the early Earth was not as harsh a place as many scientists have thought.
To determine the age of the zircon fragment, the scientists first used a widely accepted dating technique based on determining the radioactive decay of uranium to lead in a mineral sample.
But because some scientists hypothesized that this technique might give a false date due to possible movement of lead atoms within the crystal over time, the researchers turned to a second sophisticated method to verify the finding.
They used a technique known as atom-probe tomography that was able to identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal and determine their mass, and confirmed that the zircon was indeed 4.4 billion years old.
To put that age in perspective, the Earth itself formed 4.5 billion years ago as a ball of molten rock, meaning that its crust formed relatively soon thereafter, 100 million years later. The age of the crystal also means that the crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system.
The finding supports the notion of a “cool early Earth“ where temperatures were low enough to sustain oceans, and perhaps life, earlier than previously thought, Valley said.
This period of Earth history is known as the Hadean eon, named for ancient Greek god of the underworld Hades because of hellish conditions including meteorite bombardment and an initially molten surface.
“One of the things that we’re really interested in is: when did the Earth first become habitable for life? When did it cool off enough that life might have emerged?” Valley said in a telephone interview.
The discovery that the zircon crystal, and thereby the formation of the crust, dates from 4.4 billion years ago suggests that the planet was perhaps capable of sustaining microbial life 4.3 billion years ago, Valley said.
“We have no evidence that life existed then. We have no evidence that it didn’t. But there is no reason why life could not have existed on Earth 4.3 billion years ago,” he added.
The oldest fossil records of life are stromatolites produced by an archaic form of bacteria from about 3.4 billion years ago.
The zircon was extracted in 2001 from a rock outcrop in Australia’s Jack Hills region. For a rock of such importance, it is rather small. It measures only about 200 by 400 microns, about twice the diameter of a human hair.
“Zircons can be large and very pretty. But the ones we work on are small and not especially attractive except to a geologist,” Valley said. “If you held it in the palm of your hand, if you have good eyesight you could see it without a magnifying glass.”
The tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago. (Courtesy of John Valley)

Oldest piece of Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old | World | News | Toronto Sun
 
Blackleaf
#2
Give it to the Queen.
 
petros
+3
#3  Top Rated Post
You give it to the Queen. Both holes.

APT is a great way to measure age of phenocrysts but what these people are suggesting is more like a magmatic refractory chunk that wasn't crustal and is more than likely contains a recycled zircon from in the upper mantle.

What did the SIMS results date the rock it was found in at?
 
Blackleaf
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

You give it to the Queen. Both holes.

I would have done if it was 1954. But now she's so old her v agina's probably haunted.
 
petros
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

I would have done if it was 1954. But now she's so old her v agina's probably haunted.

Crazy Anne was probably the better lay.
 
Blackleaf
#6
She was a bit of a looker in her younger days, was our Head of State. Here she is at 18. Yummy...

 
EagleSmack
+2
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

She was a bit of a looker in her younger days, was our Head of State. Here she is at 18. Yummy...

That is considered a "looker"?

Oh brother.
 
petros
+1
#8
He's a Brit, what did you expect?
 
WLDB
+1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

She was a bit of a looker in her younger days, was our Head of State. Here she is at 18. Yummy...

18? I would have guessed 30. Tough life back then.
 
Mowich
+2
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDB View Post

18? I would have guessed 30. Tough life back then.

War is hell.
 
L Gilbert
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by spaminator View Post

Oldest piece of Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old
Will Dunham, Reuters
First posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 04:54 PM EST | Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 05:01 PM EST
WASHINGTON – To put it mildly, this is one gem of a gem.
Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday, the researchers said the discovery indicates that Earth’s crust formed relatively soon after the planet formed and that the little gem was a remnant of it.
John Valley, a University of Wisconsin geoscience professor who led the research, said the findings suggest that the early Earth was not as harsh a place as many scientists have thought.
To determine the age of the zircon fragment, the scientists first used a widely accepted dating technique based on determining the radioactive decay of uranium to lead in a mineral sample.
But because some scientists hypothesized that this technique might give a false date due to possible movement of lead atoms within the crystal over time, the researchers turned to a second sophisticated method to verify the finding.
They used a technique known as atom-probe tomography that was able to identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal and determine their mass, and confirmed that the zircon was indeed 4.4 billion years old.
To put that age in perspective, the Earth itself formed 4.5 billion years ago as a ball of molten rock, meaning that its crust formed relatively soon thereafter, 100 million years later. The age of the crystal also means that the crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system.
The finding supports the notion of a “cool early Earth“ where temperatures were low enough to sustain oceans, and perhaps life, earlier than previously thought, Valley said.
This period of Earth history is known as the Hadean eon, named for ancient Greek god of the underworld Hades because of hellish conditions including meteorite bombardment and an initially molten surface.
“One of the things that we’re really interested in is: when did the Earth first become habitable for life? When did it cool off enough that life might have emerged?” Valley said in a telephone interview.
The discovery that the zircon crystal, and thereby the formation of the crust, dates from 4.4 billion years ago suggests that the planet was perhaps capable of sustaining microbial life 4.3 billion years ago, Valley said.
“We have no evidence that life existed then. We have no evidence that it didn’t. But there is no reason why life could not have existed on Earth 4.3 billion years ago,” he added.
The oldest fossil records of life are stromatolites produced by an archaic form of bacteria from about 3.4 billion years ago.
The zircon was extracted in 2001 from a rock outcrop in Australia’s Jack Hills region. For a rock of such importance, it is rather small. It measures only about 200 by 400 microns, about twice the diameter of a human hair.
“Zircons can be large and very pretty. But the ones we work on are small and not especially attractive except to a geologist,” Valley said. “If you held it in the palm of your hand, if you have good eyesight you could see it without a magnifying glass.”
The tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago. (Courtesy of John Valley)

Oldest piece of Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old | World | News | Toronto Sun

Cool. (scuse the pun)

Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

She was a bit of a looker in her younger days, was our Head of State. Here she is at 18. Yummy...

She was a bagger. Princess Anne was a two-bagger.
 

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