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How Scientists Found The Oldest Rock On Earth

Scientists recently found the oldest thing on Earth, a zircon crystal, and it dates back to 4.4 billion years ago! Carbon dating is a helpful tool in order to date old things, but it’s limited. Trace is joined by Elise Andrew from I F***king Love Science to talk about how exactly scientists were able to find the oldest thing on earth.

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Oldest Rock Speck Zeros In On Earth’s Cooling Date

“The oldest remaining grain of early Earth’s original solid rock crust has now been confirmed to be a 4.374-billion-year-old zircon crystal from Jack Hills, Australia.”

Uranium-Lead Dating

“Of all the isotopic dating methods in use today, the uranium-lead method is the oldest and, when done carefully, the most reliable. Unlike any other method, uranium-lead has a natural cross-check built into it that shows when nature has tampered with the evidence.”

Gem Found On Australian Sheep Ranch Is The Oldest Known Piece Of Earth, Scientists Find

“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.”

Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old

“Ever heard this life advice? When solving a big problem seems impossible, break it into smaller steps.”

Where Are the Oldest Rocks on Earth Found?

“You don’t need to go to a museum to find really, really old things. Ordinary rocks, for example, may be millions or billions of years old, and are free for the taking.”

Zircon Chronology: Dating the Oldest Material on Earth

“What are the oldest rocks on Earth, and how did they form? The material that holds the greatest insight into these fundamental questions, because it can contain a record of some of the earliest history of the Earth, is a mineral named zircon.”

Atom Probe

“The atom probe is a microscope used in material science that was invented in 1967 by Erwin Wilhelm Muller, J. A. Panitz, and S. Brooks McLane.”

Oldest Bit Of Crust Firms Up Idea Of A Cool Early Earth

“A timeline of the history of our planet places the formation of the Jack Hills zircon and a ‘cool early Earth’ at 4.4 billion years.”

Hadean Age For A Post-Magma-Ocean Zircon Confirmed By Atom-Probe Tomography

“The only physical evidence from the earliest phases of Earth’s evolution comes from zircons, ancient mineral grains that can be dated using the U-Th-Pb geochronometer.”

Neodymium-142 Evidence For Hadean Mafic Crust

“Neodymium-142 data for rocks from the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt in northern Quebec, Canada, show that some rock types have lower 142Nd/144Nd ratios than the terrestrrial standard.”

Oldest Known Rock on Earth Discovered

“Canadian bedrock more than 4 billion years old may be the oldest known section of the Earth’s early crust.”

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How Carbon Dating Works

TestTube Wild Card

How Did Life Begin?

Photo © John Valley/ University of Wisconsin


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