AUSTRALIA: Using lasers smaller than human hair to target minute grains of minerals collected from beach sand, Curtin University scientists have revealed evidence of a roughly four billion-year-old portion of the Earth’s crust beneath southwestern Western Australia.
Maximilian Drolener, a Ph.D student in the Mineral Systems Time Scale Group at the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, explained that the laser was used to vaporise pieces of individual zircon grains to determine where they were initially eroded and to learn more about the local geology.
Australian researchers’ new discovery about planet Earth
This new finding contributes to our understanding of how the earth went from being lifeless to supporting life.
According to Drolener, “There is evidence that a 4-billion-year-old Ireland-sized crust has affected the geological evolution of Western Australia over the past few billion years and is a significant component of the rocks that formed in Washington during this time.”
This chunk of crust, which still exists at depths of tens of kilometres beneath the southwest corner of Western Australia, has endured many mountain-building processes between Australia, India, and Antarctica. It is crucial to contrast our results with the available information.
“However, it seems that similar timing for early crustal creation and preservation has been noted in various areas of the planet. The crust hardened, and life began to establish itself,” he added.
A large-scale examination of the area had never been conducted previously, according to Dr. Milo Parham, research supervisor for the Mineral Systems Time Scale Group at the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The findings were intriguing when compared to previous research.
The ancient Parham fragment’s margins “signal significant crustal boundaries that regulate where to discover economically significant minerals,” according to Parham.
For the best possible investigation of future sustainable resource sources, it is essential to identify old crustal remains.
“Considering how much time has passed, studying the early Earth is difficult, yet it is crucial to comprehend the significance of life on our planetus and our search for it on other worlds. It is quite significant,” he added.
There are three main strata to the earth. Yellow represents the dense, hot inside core, orange the molten exterior core, red the mantle, and brown the thin crust, which is home to all known forms of life.
Previous research revealed that while the majority of the Earth’s crust is relatively recent, a minor portion is composed of ancient fragments that once penetrated the mantle and later rose to the surface.