Oldest Rocks on Earth Found


These rocks provide an opportunity to investigate the nature of continental crust formation on the early Earth. Because complexities in zircons and bulk rocks are characteristic of the early Earth record—including the AGC—strategies are needed to extract accurate and meaningful age and isotopic information. In order to evaluate the accuracy of the early Earth Hf isotope record, we examined AGC zircons from a range of lithologies using paired chemical abrasion isotope dilution U-Pb age and solution Lu-Hf isotope analysis and compared these with previous results obtained using laser ablation split-stream LASS analysis. We describe an approach whereby LASS is used to identify rocks with the least complex zircons, and, when appropriate, solution methods are then used to refine the age and Hf isotopic composition to the highest precision. This two-pronged analytical approach results in a more robust determination of the age and Hf isotopic record of complex rocks and zircons and allows identification of complexity in the Hf isotopic record that would not be apparent by solution analysis alone, thereby refining the record of magmatic evolution on the early Earth. Despite the better precision, solution techniques are unsuitable for rocks with complexly zoned zircons. This is attributable to the presence of later radiogenic overgrowths on the zircon grains which are incorporated in solution analyses but can be avoided using LASS. This provides important clarity to the AGC Hf isotope record.

4,030,000,000 years, ye’ olde Acasta Gneiss

Acasta Gneiss: at approximately 4. The event took place at Macalester College in St. Paul, and was led by Jeff Thole , laboratory supervisor and instructor in the college’s Geology Department.

The Hadean The Acasta Gneiss Evidence of what happened in the first Ma of Earth history is sparse, and rocks that provide Hadean dates.

Johnson, Daniel J. Here we present a detailed geological map of the main area of the complex around the sample locality of the oldest known rocks and detailed sketch maps of critical geological outcrops. The geological map shows that the complex is divided, by a northeast-trending fault, into eastern and western domains. The eastern area is comprised from quartz dioritic-gabbroic gneisses and multi-phase tonalitic-granitic gneisses.

The western area is comprised of layered quartz dioritic-dioritic and tonalitic-granitic gneisses and younger foliated granitic intrusions. In contrast, at least four tectonothermal events have been recognized in the western area: 1 and 2 emplacement of the protolith to the mafic-intermediate and felsic gneiss; 3 metamorphism and deformation to form the gneissic and layered structures; 4 intrusion of the granite sheet the protolith of the foliated granite ; 5 metamorphism and deformation of all lithologies.

To constrain the timing of the tectonothermal events, we have carried out U-Pb dating combined with cathodoluminescence imagery on zircon extracted from the gneisses and foliated granites. Our data reveal at least four tonalite-granite emplacement events in the eastern area, at ca. The field relationships between the felsic and quartz dioritic gneisses in the eastern area demonstrate that the two quartz dioritic gneiss protoliths were emplaced prior to 3.

These results confirm findings of previous zircon geochronology that the protolith ages of Acasta gneisses are 4. In this context, we also discuss the tectonothermal evolution of the Acasta Gneiss Complex on the basis of these results and those from previous studies, and its implications for radiogenic isotopic studies. Geology and zircon geochronology of the Acasta Gneiss Complex, northwestern Canada : New constraints on its tectonothermal history.

Geology and zircon geochronology of the Acasta Gneiss Complex, northwestern Canada: New constraints on its tectonothermal history. Overview Fingerprint.

Geological Dating

Scientists have found the oldest known rocks on Earth. They are 4. Earth formed about 4. Remnants of crust from Earth’s infancy are hard to come by because most of that material has been recycled into Earth’s interior several times by the plate tectonics that continue to shape our planet’s surface. In , geologists found an expanse of bedrock, known as the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt, exposed on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec. Suspecting that the rocks there could be from one of the earliest periods of Earth’s history, geologists took samples to try and determine their age.

The oldest zircon dates are billion years. Before this study, the oldest dated rocks were from a body of rock known as the Acasta Gneiss in.

High-precision geochronology of Proterozoic to Archean zircon needs very thorough application of chemical abrasion techniques to mitigate decay-damage related Pb loss. We have developed stepwise leaching techniques that are controlled by chemical analysis see Reimink et al. Application of these techniques enabled highly precise dating of late-stage zircon crystallization in residual melts of the Bushveld Complex Zeh et al. High-precision techniques were also the clue for dating 2.

Africa Lantink et al. The cyclostratigraphic analysis revealed that the macrobanding of this BIF is controlled by Milankovitch forcing, more specifically through modulations of the ky eccentricity cycle. Cyclic sedimentary sequences of Paleoproterozoic age, S.

Acasta Gneiss

The Acasta River is kms sm north of the City of Yellowknife. You will get to experience flight in the north as so many prospectors, geologists, and adventures have in the past on board an iconic de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Floatplane. The Acasta Gneiss is a tonalite gneiss.

Acasta Gneiss: at approximately billion years-old, the tonalite gneiss is So how exactly has the Acasta gneiss been dated so precisely?

Welcome Back. We’ve Missed You. Learn More. Please donate. Your support has never been more vital to the ROM. Include the ROM in your will. The Jack Hills Conglomerate, a 3, million year old sedimentary rock from which the oldest, at 4, million years, terrestrial minerals have been found. The Jack Hills Conglomerate occurs in the Mt.

Narryer and Jack Hills area of Western Australia. Very old rocks, those greater than 3, million years old occur on all the continents but in small blocks generally less than km across and until recently the oldest rocks known were found at Isua in south-western Greenland.

On the hunt for remarkable rocks

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To test our U‐Pb dating approach, we analyzed zircons from Acasta gneisses because they are well‐documented examples of ancient zircon.

Signing up enhances your TCE experience with the ability to save items to your personal reading list, and access the interactive map. For centuries people have argued about the age of the Earth; only recently has it been possible to come close to achieving reliable estimates. In the 19th century some geologists realized that the vast thicknesses of sedimentary rocks meant that the Earth must be at least hundreds of millions of years old.

On the other hand, the great physicist Lord Kelvin vehemently objected and suggested that the Earth might only be a few tens of millions of years old, based on his calculations of its cooling history. These discussions were rendered obsolete by the discovery of radioactivity in by the French physicist Henri Becquerel.

The existence of radioactivities of various kinds in rocks has enabled earth scientists to determine the age of the Earth, the moon, meteorites, mountain chains and ocean basins, and to draw up a reasonably accurate time scale of evolution. It has even been possible to work out a time scale of the reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field. The vast majority of atoms each composed of a nucleus surrounded by electrons are stable. Essentially, they will exist forever. A critical few, however, are unstable.

The Acasta gneiss: Earth’s oldest surface rock

During your visits to the Lizzadro Museum, you may have noticed a small rock in the Rocks display. A metamorphic rock, its protolith original, unmetamorphosed rock was a granite, an intrusive igneous rock. Using radiometric dating of zircon crystals found in the rock, scientists determined the age of the zircon crystals to be 4.

That means, the zircons found in the Acasta Gneiss are almost as old as the earth itself! Zircons have been used to measure some of the oldest rocks on earth, including the Acasta Gneiss.

the Acasta gneiss complex (Northwest Territories, Canada)! Dated at billion years #acasta #gneiss #rocks #northwestterritories #canada #zircon #​earth.

Bedrock along the northeast coast of Hudson Bay, Canada, has the oldest rock on Earth. This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts. Canadian bedrock more than 4 billion years old may be the oldest known section of the Earth’s early crust. The findings, which offer scientists clues to earliest stages of our planet’s evolution, are published in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

The Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt is an expanse of bedrock exposed on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec and was first recognized in as a potential site of very old rocks.


Tags: geology , rock , paleogeology , geochronology. Objective s : Earth’s oldest rocks, the 4. An area to the west near Grant Lake contains rocks of similar appearance that have not been thoroughly investigated with respect to age and crustal history. The research team proposes to collect samples from this area and determine, using U-Pb geochronology, the age of various rock units.

If Acasta-aged rocks are present, the results will help to determine the extent and geological history of Earth’s oldest continental fragment.

and dates back to the earth’s earliest days. The Acasta Gneiss is a tonalite gneiss. The exposed rock body is the oldest known intact crustal fragment on Earth.

Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. A Nature Research Journal. The latest contender for the title of ‘world’s oldest rock’ juts unassumingly out of the Canadian tundra, where data indicate it could have formed 4.

If so, the beige outcropping bests the previous oldest rocks by million years, and could be the closest thing to Earth’s original crust in existence today. The work is published in Science 1. Until now, the oldest known rock formation was the Acasta gneiss in Canada’s Northwest Territories, clocking in at 4. Ancient rocks are rare because most of Earth’s primordial crust has been recycled by plate tectonics.

DHC-2 Floatplane – Acasta Gneiss, Oldest Rock on Earth – With Stop Over

By Catherine Brahic. Geologists in Canada may have discovered the oldest rocks on Earth. But a controversy over the techniques used to date the rocks is threatening to overshadow the discovery. However, the team has used a controversial method for dating the rocks. The dating method relies on the amount of the common isotope neodymium in the rock.

Massive and banded White Gneisses occur only in eastern part of the Acasta Gneiss Complex, whereas layered White Gneiss and foliated granite are present only.

Many studies link the presence of continents on Earth to the operation of plate tectonics. Radiogenic isotope data have, however, long consigned the bulk of crust generation and preservation to the murky realm of the Precambrian Earth, where the prevailing geodynamic systems are highly uncertain due to the sparse and complex nature of the geological record of these early eons.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of this geological record, considering the biases and artefacts that may undermine its fidelity, and to assess what are the most robust lines of evidence from which meaningful geodynamic inferences can be drawn. This is pursued with reference to Hadean detrital zircons, Archean gneiss complexes and Archean granite—greenstone terranes, and by considering isotopic proxies of crust—mantle interaction. The evidence reinforces long held views that the formation of some of the oldest continental nuclei involved a distinctive mode of planetary geodynamics that rests uneasily within definitions of modern style plate tectonics.

A detailed interrogation of the oldest rocks, integrating multi-scale information from the best preserved whole-rock and mineral archives, and emphasizing careful selection at the sampling and analytical stages, will lead to the most robust input data for petrological and thermodynamic models of early Earth processes. More than three decades ago in this journal a case was made that large volumes of continental crust existed on the early Earth, and have been recycled en masse through the mantle throughout geological time [ 1 ], developed further in [ 2 ].

Plate tectonics, via sediment subduction, and the foundering of the thickened roots of Andean-style magmatic arcs [ 3 ], provided an elegant mechanism for this large scale recycling. The bulk composition of the continental crust, resembling that of the andesitic magmas voluminously erupted along convergent plate boundaries [ 4 ] provided notional support for the role of plate tectonics in building, or at least shaping, the continental crust [ 5 , 6 ].

Numerous studies have since linked plate tectonics to the processes and rates of continental stabilization or assembly through time [ 7 — 10 ]. Other studies relate the operation of plate tectonics to the development of a habitable planet, through formation of buoyant, emergent continents, flux of essential nutrients into seawater and regulation of the composition of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans [ 11 — 13 ].

There is, therefore, great interest in determining how far back in time plate tectonic processes operated on Earth—or at least when plate tectonics became the dominant mode of planetary dynamics, as it is at the present day. The formidable challenge here is that the accessible record of the critical early part of Earth evolution is incredibly sparse.

It could in fact be argued that we know more about the early history of the Moon from the few Apollo sample return missions, than we do about the early history of the Earth.

High-precision temporal resolution of planetary processes in the Proterozoic and Archean

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Isotopic dating gives absolute ages in years or millions of years. In contrast, the layered successions of rocks give only relative ages – older than.

This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. As chair of UW’s earth and environmental sciences department, he has been scouring the country for remarkable rocks for the Peter Russell Rock Garden on campus. And you can’t get much more remarkable than a 4. This is the oldest rock that we know of. The rock garden, located between the biology and mathematics buildings, is a quiet sanctuary, a gathering place and a tool to teach students about significant Canadian rocks — their formation, their economic importance, their history.

It’s a place to remember deceased friends or family for whom rocks are donated. Named for its creator, Peter Russell, the Earth Sciences Museum’s former longtime curator, the rock garden opened in It has more than 50 rocks, including a boulder from the Frank Slide, a rock slide in that buried part of the mining town of Frank, Alberta, killing up to 90 people.

How Old Is Meteorite?

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