800 million years after the formation of the earth, the first landmass has already erupted.
We know that the earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. 4.4 to 4.2 billion years ago, the first oceans covering the Earth’s surface appeared. But when did the first land rise above sea level? Dutch researchers are now lifting a corner of the veil.
In a new study, published Natural Earth Science, Geologists first studied the appearance of significant landforms. And this leads to a surprising conclusion. For example, the first country on Earth appeared about 3.7 billion years ago. This is a billion years earlier than I thought. Furthermore, this means that the first nation appeared only 800 million years after the creation of the earth.
Researchers have relied on analyzes of ancient rocks. “We can not go back to the first country,” explains researcher Paul Mason. “But we can see traces of it stored in old rocks. We examined the stained minerals from seawater and stored information about the pieces of land that were first exposed to it.
Scientists suspect that the first mountain ranges on Earth may have been composed mainly of granite rock. Granite has a relatively low density and rises easily above other rocks in the ocean. So the researchers said this in detail. Granite is rich in the element rubidium, which undergoes radioactive decay to form a new isotope of the strontium element. “We can see if it comes from the ratio of strontium isotopes in seawater to the granite rocks it emits,” explains research leader Desiree Rording. “In other words, from sea level to land.”
However, the composition of seawater from the past can no longer be traced. Therefore, in their study, the researchers used an indirect method to analyze seawater billions of years ago. Studied a mineral called barite that forms at the bottom of the ocean. Barite captures strontium from seawater, thus having the fingerprints of the first washed isotopes from that first surface.
Research leads to the astonishing discovery that the first land of the earth arose much earlier than thought. The minerals under study, discovered in present-day South Africa, India and Australia, have been preserved unchanged for 3.5 billion years.
Ancient traces of land
However, Mason has an important caveat. “Remember that we are talking here about the ancient traces of reclaimed land,” he says subtly. “It does not mean there was no land above sea level before that. The islands may have been in the oceans 3.7 billion years ago, but were too small to leave traces after they were eroded and disappeared.
In addition, the findings do not indicate that present-day South Africa, India, and Australia are pristine. “Only in those areas are there traces of those old rocks,” says Rording. “The Earth’s crust is constantly changing. Continents change, disappear or rise. A rock you may now find somewhere may have formed on the other side of the earth.
This study re-dates our planet’s first country and provides important information about the origin of life, Rording emphasizes. “The erosion of the rocks gave the oceans essential nutrients like phosphorus,” he says. “Geography and biological evolution were closely linked on early Earth.”
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