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By Ordoh Staff. Published on Feb 24, 2014. 0
When was Earth’s crust first formed? Until now the answer was biggest mystery, but lately scientists have solved it. They have confirmed in a new study it was formed some 4.4 billion years ago, about 160 million years after the solar system was formed.
The new finding was done by researchers from University of Wisconsin. They said the discovered zircon crystal 15 years back from the Jack Hills region of Australia dates around 4.374 billion years ago. It is the oldest fragment of Earth’s crust ever discovered and it offers clues on how the planet became habitable around 4.4 billion years ago.
Professor John Valley from University of Wisconsin-Madison said in his study they used a novel technique called atom-probe tomography to find out the age and also the thermal history of zircon crystal.
In LiveScience journal Valley is quoted saying the chemical record found by them inside the zircons is trustworthy.
Zircons are terrestrial materials and so far the oldest known too. It occurs in igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. It is colorless as well as occur in several colors too containing fine traces of uranium and thorium. As these have survived metamorphism and erosion, the crystals are bundles with rich and several geological processes.
The new study also suggests even if the crust underwent radiation damage, the lead atoms number within it was intact. It was counted with atom-probe tomography.
The new finding is published in the Nature journal.
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