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Age of Earth’s Crust

The new research has shown that the Earth’s continents have been leaking nutrients into the ocean for at least 3.7 billion years. The rigid, rocky continental Earth’s Crust has been a feature of the planet for billions of years. The study was published in Science Journal.

The age of the Earth’s Crust is hard to say. To calculate the age of continents, researchers study the decay of ancient chemicals trapped in rocks typically, in carbonate minerals recovered from the ocean. Those minerals are not easily found, and when found they are rarely in pristine enough condition to analyze.The group of scientists has devised a new way to date ancient chunks of crust and according to their latest research, they have found that previously the age of the continents are misjudged.

In research presented April 26 at the virtual European Geosciences Union General Assembly, 2021 conference researchers showed that by analyzing a mineral called barite which is a combination of ocean salts and barium released by volcanic ocean vents they found evidence that Earth’s continental crust was around at least 3.7 billion years ago, much older than previous estimates.

Desiree Roerdink, lead author of the study, a geochemist at the University of Bergen, Norway said that is a huge jump back in time. It has implications for the way that we think about how life evolved. Barite minerals from deep underwater, where hot, nutrient-rich water seethes out of hydrothermal vents in the seafloor. But this raised a question about the usage of marine rocks for studying Earth’s Crust. According to the researchers, continents and oceans have a long history of trading nutrients and barite record that history extremely well.

The lead author also added that the composition of a piece of barite that has been on Earth for three and a half billion years is the same as it was when it precipitated. It is a great recorder to look at processes on the early Earth. The key process here is weathering. As continents wear down naturally over time, they spill nutrients into the neighboring seas.This continental weathering process likely began about 3.7 billion years ago.

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