We Have A Clearer Picture Of Newborn Earth Thanks To A 4 Billion Year-Old Rock
Many scientists paint a picture of the Earth as a pretty nasty place when it was born. A swirling storm of space dust came together in the cosmos, and the resulting planet was thought of as a literal hellscape.
But some recent research puts this grim vision of the early Earth in question. And the answers might be found in costume jewelry.
Most Think The Earth Was Volatile And Inhospitable
Scientific evidence shows that the planet did not develop its vast oceans, majestic mountain ranges, and lush wildlife overnight.
Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It had to take many baby steps first before it became the verdant planet we experience today.
This “primordial stew” eventually hosted life, but the theory was that happened only after a billion year cooling off period.
Rather than seas of water covering the globe, early Earth featured molten lava oceans. The heat and generally destructive power of lava meant that early biological life was practically impossible.
Until recently, many in the scientific community saw this rough developmental stage of our planet as a fairly lengthy period.
The Best Documentation Of The Young Planet Comes From a Crystal
How did scientists develop their concepts of early Earth? Mostly through guesswork.
Since the planet is made of rock, it naturally followed that the heat resulting from the planetary creation would create the massive lava flows. And there was little basis to question these reasonable hypotheses.
It’s not as if we had any way to record what happened. That is, until scientists realized that certain billion-years-old rocks did an excellent job of recording history.
Zircon, which many know as the crystal used in knock-off diamond rings, is one of the oldest things on the planet.
Some samples date to 4.4 billion years ago, only slightly younger than the earth itself.
This practically indestructible rock also records scientific events. Sure, the recordings are only readable by scientists, but the lessons they tell are illuminating about Earth’s early origins.
The Gemstone’s Chemical Fingerprint Tells A Compelling Story
The language of zircon is chemistry. Each sample of this crystal is like a small time capsule.
Scientists recently found a large deposit of this 4 billion-year-old stuff and found evidence of early biochemical reactions that date back to the zircon’s creation.
These biochemical reactions are the fingerprints of early life.
On top of this, the chemical trail of breadcrumbs shows evidence of water (and lots of it) billions of years ago.
So, rather than a fireball planet covered with lava, primordial Earth was wet and full of early life forms.
This finding does not disprove the early lava theory but rather shortens the window of time for this early stage of the planet.
It also opens up new inquiries into other ways to extract data about ancient Earth. Now that we know we can look at chemistry and its traces as a decipherable language, there are practically no limits to what can be explored and discovered.