Crystal is ‘oldest scrap of Earth crust’

27

The zircon crystal is dated to around 4.4 billion years ago – giving evidence of the eartly history of Earth.

A tiny 4.4-billion-year-old crystal has been confirmed as the oldest fragment of Earth's crust.

The zircon was found in sandstone in the Jack Hills region of Western Australia.

Scientists dated the crystal by studying its uranium and lead atoms. The former decays into the latter very slowly over time and can be used like a clock.

The finding has been reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Its implication is that Earth had formed a solid crust much sooner after its formation 4.6 billion years ago than was previously thought, and very quickly following the great collision with a Mars-sized body that is thought to have produced the Moon just a few tens of millions of years after that. Before this time, Earth would have been a seething ball of molten magma.

But knowledge that its surface hardened so early raises the tantalising prospect that our world became ready to host life very early in its history.

"This confirms our view of how the Earth cooled and became habitable," said lead author Prof John Valley, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US.

"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 told the Reuters news agency.

Plate tectonics and weathering have ensured that very little of the Earth's early surface remains to be studied.

Some rock formations that are upwards of 3.5 billion years old persist in select places such as Canada, but the vast majority of Earth's surface rock is modern, less than a few hundred million years old.

The zircons found at Jack Hills are tough pieces of old rock that have been incorporated into the newer, reworked material.

continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

27 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Its implication is that Earth had formed a solid crust much sooner after its formation 4.6 billion years ago than was previously thought, and very quickly following the great collision with a Mars-sized body that is thought to have produced the Moon just a few tens of millions of years after that.

    Here is a little more detail on this:-

    Giant impact hypothesis

    The giant impact hypothesis states that the Moon was formed out of the debris left over from an indirect collision between the Earth and an astronomical body the size of Mars, approximately 4.5 Gya (four and a half billion years ago) in the Hadean eon. The colliding body is sometimes called Theia, for the mythical Greek Titan who was the mother of Selene, the goddess of the Moon.[1]

    The giant impact hypothesis is currently the favoured scientific hypothesis for the formation of the Moon.[2] Supporting evidence includes: the Earth’s spin and Moon’s orbit having similar orientations,[3] Moon samples indicating the surface of the Moon was once molten, the Moon’s relatively small iron core, lower density compared to the Earth, evidence of similar collisions in other star systems (that result in debris disks), and that giant collisions are consistent with the leading theories of the formation of the solar system. Finally, the stable isotope ratios of lunar and terrestrial rock are identical, implying a common origin.

  2. You just wait: Some YECist will say that “radiometric” dating is unreliable, like Ken Hambone (Pees Be Upon Him) said in that debate which he easily won – he even showed a fancy sciencey list to prove it. It’s so obvious, radio was only invented in 1890 & that 1950 metric stuff ain’t even good enough for the USA. Doncha know, YECs checked that Aussie ’35 mya’ lava-encased wood & carbon dating said it was only 45,000 yrs old, or was it 4-5000 yrs old – yeah, that’s it, just like my holey book said – checkmate atheists…. /s …. Mac.

    • In reply to #2 by CdnMacAtheist:

      You just wait: Some YECist will say that “radiometric” dating is unreliable, like Ken Hambone (Pees Be Upon Him) said in that debate which he easily won – he even showed a fancy sciencey list to prove it.

      Ah! The fizzicks of hamstronomy, with supersonic tectonic plates, expanding ocean-waters molecules, and hyper-velocity radioactive decay!
      Funny how the technical details of these awesome processes seem so vague and ill-defined, and yet so obvious to “interpretations” of “faith-thinking” YEC minds!

      http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/geology-terms/radioactive-dating-info.htm

      Radioisotopes used for calculating the age of rocks have very long half-lives. A commonly used radioisotope for this purpose is uranium 238—an isotope of uranium with an atomic weight of about 238. Uranium 238 has a half-life of about 4.5 billion (4,500,000,000) years. It changes into a radioisotope of another element that in turn changes into a series of other radioisotopes before a stable (nonradioactive) isotope is formed. The uranium 238 series ends in lead 206. Since scientists know the rate at which uranium 238 becomes lead 206, they can determine the age of a rock that contains uranium 238 from the ratio of uranium 238 to lead 206 in the rock. They can calculate the age more accurately by measuring all the products in the series.

      Other isotopes used in dating rocks include uranium 235, which becomes lead 207; thorium 232, which becomes lead 208; rubidium 87, which changes into strontium 87; and potassium 40, which changes into argon 40.

      ▬▬▬▬▬▬

      Other methods depend on effects produced by a radioactive substance in surrounding materials. In one method, called fission-track dating, the age of an object is determined by counting the tiny scars or tracks left in zircon or certain other materials by the fission (splitting) of uranium atoms. It can be used to date materials several tens of thousands to more than 4 billion (4,000,000,000) years old.

    • I wonder why it’s never occurred to the Hamster to at least state that, you know, WAY back then each day was worth roughly 716,666,666 years (give or take a few) and so that’s how the whole 6 day paradigm thing fits perfectly! Problem solved. Ha ha.

      Of course I don’t really wonder…

      In reply to #2 by CdnMacAtheist:

      You just wait: Some YECist will say that “radiometric” dating is unreliable, like Ken Hambone (Pees Be Upon Him) said in that debate which he easily won – he even showed a fancy sciencey list to prove it. It’s so obvious, radio was only invented in 1890 & that 1950 metric stuff ain’t even good eno…

  3. It’s possible that Australia is also the origin of some of the Earth’s oldest and longest established young earth creationists.

    Though no hard scientific data. Perhaps ethical considerations impact on sample extraction for carbon isotope testing. Also the Australian environment has since cooled and hardened and is now less habitable than in the early YEC era. Most of these crusty old fragments have since been exported to the much more amenable environment of North America.

  4. I’m currently doing some revision on dendrochronology, radioactive clocks, strata and the periodic table, so this smacked me square between the eyes.

    It is irrefutable evidence!

    But, what will the creationists make of it?

    I think it’s high time it was made clear to deniers that what makes scientific findings what they are is the fact that they are falsifiable and that the burden of disproof lies fairly and squarely with them.

    Otherwise they’ll continue to gain publicity for their soppy ideas by dragging those who’ve worked hard to gain knowledge around in circles.

    If David Attenborough has lost patience with them it must be time to start challenging them Socratically, dismissing any of the answers they give which cannot be falsified.

    They must adhere to the same rigours as scientists; which include admitting not knowing something.

    • In reply to #5 by Stafford Gordon:
      >

      It is irrefutable evidence!

      But, what will the creationists make of it?

      I would guess the authors and editors at Nature Geoscience, don’t give a fig for whatever Ham-strung semantic dribblings pour out of AIG!

  5. I might be a tad off of the beaten track here mods, so please bear with me.

    It’s easy to slip into thinking of Creationists as being childish.

    But children want to learn; they need to do so.

    I was having dinner with some friends recently and we got into talking about how many of our every day expressions have their origins in Shakespeare and the Bible, and a friend’s son piped up about the monkey, the type writer and the complete works of Willie.

    So, I explained to him why it could never happen because any and all correct words would have to carried forward, which means that to succeed the process would have to be cumulative and a monkey is incapable of achieving that.

    Although I probably wasn’t explaining it very well I could tell that he was paying very close attention and I think what I was saying was going in, basically because children are open to and eager for new information; it’s part of growing up and moving on.

    But Creationists don’t want to move on, they want to stay where they are – for ever – , they’ve lost or had knocked out of them the urge to inquire and learn, and even if they are shifted off their spot a little bit by cogent discussion and debate they’ll spring back to their original position like one of those balls attached to a bat by elastic.

    Quite what can be done about it I have no idea; it would seem that the damage is irreversible; “give us a child by seven and it’s ours for life.”

    Just keep blind faithers away from children that’s all!

    • In reply to #8 by Stafford Gordon:

      I might be a tad off of the beaten track here mods, so please bear with me.

      It’s easy to slip into thinking of Creationists as being childish.

      But children want to learn; they need to do so.

      I was having dinner with some friends recently and we got into talking about how many of our every day exp…

      Aren’t we apes and did we learn to write? ;)

      Best

      • In reply to #9 by Paris Price:

        In reply to #8 by Stafford Gordon:

        I might be a tad off of the beaten track here mods, so please bear with me.

        It’s easy to slip into thinking of Creationists as being childish.

        But children want to learn; they need to do so.

        I was having dinner with some friends recently and we got into talking…

        A rhetorical question I trust.

        S G

      • In reply to #9 by Paris Price:

        In reply to #8 by Stafford Gordon:

        Shakespeare and the Bible, and a friend’s son piped up about the monkey, the type writer and the complete works of Willie.

        Aren’t we apes and did we learn to write? ;)

        Stafford is not talking about monkeys or apes learning to write.

        He is referring to the old creationist ploy of pretending genetic code is “random”, like a monkey typing the works of Shakespeare by chance! They ignore the selective aspects of Natural Selection rejecting all the failed mutant variations, and hence present that fallacious argument.

    • In reply to #8 by Stafford Gordon:

      I might be a tad off of the beaten track here mods, so please bear with me.

      It’s easy to slip into thinking of Creationists as being childish.

      But children want to learn; they need to do so.

      Quite what can be done about it I have no idea; it would seem that the damage is irreversible; “give us a child by seven and it’s ours for life.”

      That’s where mockery comes in. There is no pressure like peer pressure.

  6. I’m still always impressed by how much useful work can be accomplished with what seems by comparison to be a much smaller or simpler set of ideas, knowledge and tools. These clever scientists devise a test to confirm the age of a tiny crystal and now other scientists can speculate with more confidence about the surface of a planet as it might have been billions of years ago.

    I guess that’s really why we love our sciences. Nothing else comes close to illuminating so much of reality so efficiently and reliably.

    edit: -hehe- I didn’t mean to sound like I’m selling a car. Christ, I should probably work on the delivery of my enthusiasm.

  7. This is a word for word transcription of what Ken Ham said about the age of the Earth, taken directly from the Ham, Nye debate. It helps to imagine his preaching style and rattling delivery

    ‘what I want people to understand too, regarding the age of the Earth being 4.5 billion years, no Earth rock was dated to get that date, they dated meteorites because they assumed meteorites were the same age as the Earth left over from the formation of the solar system, that’s where that comes from’.

    The mistaken age of the Earth derives from measuring the age of 4.5 billion year old meteorites. I kid ye not.

    So the rest of the universe already existed and god just did the Earth?

  8. If you take the creationist death rattle (CDR) and multiply it by their supposed age of the earth (6000) divided by the number of Catholic Gods (3), times the speed of light squared, you get (CDR) x (6000/3) x (c squared) = the oldest crusty thing on earth (Abraham’s balls — cheese be upon them)

    Everyone can do this rudimentary math, so why all the hub bub about some rock thingy that supposedly is “old”?

    BTW, CDR is measured in “assholes per hour” (APM); and light speed in miles per hour, so when you multiply them together, the units convert to “miles of assholes per hour squared” and we all know that this is what most of us call “congregations”. Further, theorists tell us that, if this is an expanding number, the world is doomed. However, if contracting, we should all be all right or Cleetus Allreetus Allrightus as Frank would say.

  9. Wowww! Amazing!!

    So we had found that the earth’ crust was formed early on in its history. Life must have began to flourish soon after.

    DID I HEAR ANYONE SHOUT ‘WATER’!!!

    Sugar , must have missed it!

  10. In reply to #25 by ashleyhr:
    >

    Basically AiG have read the Valley Nature Geoscience paper and are denying it all. It makes the author of the Bible (the author they believe is behind it) into a ‘liar’.

    You are probably using the term “read” metaphorically. (As in Biblical “interpretation”).
    The concept of the average YEC reading the radiometric physics and mathematics, in a top scientific journal with any comprehension, is totally comical!!!

    “Nature” is one of the world’s top peer-reviewed scientific journals.
    Its editors and contributors are probably as impressed with the Hamster blitherings (if they noticed them at all), as you would be, if you were told your comments were rubbish by the family budgie!

Leave a Reply