Ancient mineral grains provide insight into early Earth

The analysis of microscopic zircon crystals from Western Australia’s Jack Hills region has strengthened the theory of a “cool early Earth” with a hydrosphere before 4.3 billion years ago.

Research led by Professor John Valley established the age and thermal history of the zircons, using a technique called atom-probe tomography. By dating the formation of the zircon crystals—which are the oldest known material on Earth—to at least 4.4 billion years ago, the study confirmed that the planet’s magma oceans cooled only 160 million years after the formation of our solar system.

The research furthers understanding of how the Earth became habitable for life and how other habitable planets might form.

Read more at University of Wisconsin-Madison

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