A tiny piece of crystal found on a sheep farm in Australia is giving researchers insight into the very early formation of the Earth and its crust. The microscopic zircon crystal under study is said to be made of the oldest known material formed on Earth, dating from soon after the molten rock that originally formed the planet had cooled.
The discovery helps to push the clock back on the formation of oceans and early life. "This confirms our view of how the Earth cooled and became habitable. This may also help us understand how other habitable planets would form," says lead researcher John Valley, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.… Read more