Ancient crystals hold clues as to why the Earth’s crust broke down like creme brulee 3.8 billion years ago


Small crystals discovered in South Africa show that the planet's surface shifted abruptly 3.8 billion years ago.

Image Credit:livescience

These crystals, each no bigger than a grain of sand, demonstrate that about that time, the crust of the Earth began to break down and migrate, a prelude to plate tectonics.

Image Credit:topfitness20

The discoveries can help address issues regarding putative tectonic plate linkages and provide information about Earth's evolution as a planet

engine of life

In the mantle, the Earth's middle layer, jigsaw pieces of hard crust are currently floating on a hot, sticky ocean of magma

 These bits of crust grind against each other, sink beneath each other in subduction zones, and push against each other

forming mountains and ocean ridges, rifting volcanoes, and earthquakes that rock the world on a regular basis

a rapid change

In 2018, Drapon and her colleagues discovered zircon crystals in a bed of green sandstone in the Barberton-Greenstone mountain range in South Africa

Image Credit:worldtodaynews

 The researchers discovered 33 zircons with ages ranging from 4.1 billion to 3.3 billion years.

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