The oldest piece of Earth has been found, as alleged by scientists, in the Western Australia’s Jack Hills. The study, financed by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the NASA Astrobiology Institute has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The fragment of earth is actually Zircon, a trace mineral, found in many types of rocks, and is denoted by the chemical formula: ZrSiO4. Its make-up is such that it serves as storage of valuable information relevant to the Earth’s history.
Zircon – Oldest Piece of Planet Earth Found
What makes Zircon so precious a piece of gem? It is, in fact, very durable and may resist extreme conditions. It can survive many geological events. At each different epoch, it gets coated with an additional layer of matter, and all coatings of different eras can be differentiated from each other, and the age of each can be determined. Finally, the core of the Zircon can give a valuable estimation of its time of origin. These data can give pretty accurate accounts of the different stages the Earth went through since its beginning.
How to do this dating of the mineral Zircon?
Zircon contains uranium, which turns into lead at a constant rate, hence enabling us to use it as a ‘time capsule’. Innovative techniques such as atom-probe tomography and secondary ion mass spectrometry have been used to examine the lead atoms. The mass of the lead atoms indicates the age and thermal history of Zircon. The particular Zircon piece has thus been shown to have crystallized some 4.374 billion years ago. And, according to other studies, the Earth is not much older than 4.56 billion yrs; thus the new Zircon discovery has also corroborated earlier studies. Furthermore, from the ob servations made, it has been seen that the oldest chunk of Earth is very similar to how it is now.
So, the piece of Zircon found is now known as the oldest piece of earth that remains. Additionally, dating the Zircon piece can also elucidate the great mystery as to how life developed on Earth and on other planets.