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Early Earth Likely Had Continents, Was Habitable, According To New Study
University of Colorado at Boulder ^ | 2005-11-18 | University of Colorado at Boulder

Posted on 11/18/2005 8:32:59 PM PST by dila813

Early Earth Likely Had Continents, Was Habitable, According To New Study

A surprising new study by an international team of researchers has concluded Earth's continents most likely were in place soon after the planet was formed, overturning a long-held theory that the early planet was either moon-like or dominated by oceans.

Artist's conception of the early magma ocean. (Image courtesy of NASA)

The team came to the conclusion following an analysis of a rare metal element known as hafnium in ancient minerals from the Jack Hills in Western Australia, thought to be among the oldest rocks on Earth. Hafnium is found in association with zircon crystals in the Jack Hills rocks, which date to almost 4.4 billion years ago.

"These results support the view that the continental crust had formed by 4.4-4.5 billion years ago and was rapidly recycled into the mantle," the researchers wrote in Science Express. Led by Professor Mark Harrison of the Australian National University, the team also included University of Colorado Assistant Professor Stephen Mojzsis and researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and Ecole Normale Superieure University in France.

The researchers used hafnium as a "tracer" element, using isotopes to infer the existence of early continental formation on Earth dating to Hadeon Eon, which took place during the first 500 million years of Earth's history, said Mojzsis, an assistant professor of geological sciences at CU-Boulder. Mojzsis also is a member of CU-Boulder's Center for Astrobiology.

"The evidence indicates that there was substantial continental crust on Earth within its first 100 million years of existence," said Mojzsis. "It looks like the Earth started off with a bang."

A 2001 study led by Mojzsis published in the journal Nature showed evidence for the presence of water on Earth's surface roughly 4.3 billion years ago. "The view we are taking now is that Earth's crust, oceans and atmosphere were in place very early on, and that a habitable planet was established rapidly," said Mojzsis.


The work was supported in part by a grant from NASA's Exobiology Program.


Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.

TOPICS: Extended News
KEYWORDS: abiogenesis; australia; biogenesis; catastrophism; crevolist; diamonds; earlyearth; godsgravesglyphs; hadean; intelligentdesign; jackhills; originoflife; polishingpaste; science; whoops; zircon
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1 posted on 11/18/2005 8:33:00 PM PST by dila813

To: dila813
Reunite Gondwanaland!
2 posted on 11/18/2005 8:38:27 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)

To: dila813
Image hosted by

In related news, the missing link was found in Washington DC still spewing fire from her cavernous mouth after all these eons.

3 posted on 11/18/2005 8:40:23 PM PST by satchmodog9 ( Seventy million spent on the lefts Christmas present and all they got was a Scooter)

To: satchmodog9
Right back at you....

4 posted on 11/18/2005 8:43:20 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus

To: dila813

I don't think there was any oxygen in the atmosphere though.

5 posted on 11/18/2005 9:00:00 PM PST by Daralundy

To: dila813

I don't think there was any oxygen in the atmosphere though.

6 posted on 11/18/2005 9:00:03 PM PST by Daralundy

To: PetroniusMaximus

Holy crap on a cracker, a spitting image. Sans lipstick.


7 posted on 11/18/2005 9:00:40 PM PST by APFel (Loose ships sink lips.)

To: PetroniusMaximus

8 posted on 11/18/2005 9:02:56 PM PST by Seamoth

To: dila813

Would you be interested in hearing how the earth-moon system REALLY formed? It wasn't impact-splash wherein the incoming "mars" directly impacted the proto-earth, and splashed the moon-debris out into orbit; that theory has 2 fatal problems : collision statistics and geo-chemistry(no WATER results from such a gamma ray burster, thus NO oceans). There IS a scenario, RC/RC, which DOES produce just the early conditions that you refer to, you just have to break free from the blind belief of I-S. Have you the courage to hear the REAL story of how we came to be?

9 posted on 11/18/2005 9:12:23 PM PST by timer

To: Seamoth

That's frickin' hilarious! Best laugh all day.

10 posted on 11/18/2005 9:17:07 PM PST by lmr (Thanks to tet68, this tagline has been updated)

To: Seamoth; APFel; lmr

The emperor in drag!

11 posted on 11/18/2005 9:22:10 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus

To: dila813

Why don't the researchers just ask Helen Thomas, who was around then ,to confirm their conclusion?

12 posted on 11/18/2005 9:29:28 PM PST by citizencon

To: timer

Is that you, Wayne?

13 posted on 11/18/2005 9:35:52 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)

To: dila813

Hafnium is what they call wholium when it reaches its halflife.

14 posted on 11/18/2005 9:36:27 PM PST by Tangerine Time Machine (Orange you glad it's not a lemon?)

To: dila813
Early Earth Likely Had Continents, Was Habitable, According To New Study

Thank goodness. I feel much better now that I know the Earth didn't have incontinence.

15 posted on 11/18/2005 9:39:07 PM PST by VeniVidiVici (What? Me worry?)

To: Seamoth; APFel; lmr
For your entertainment...

16 posted on 11/18/2005 9:40:36 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus

To: PetroniusMaximus
and for good measure...

17 posted on 11/18/2005 9:49:46 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus

To: PetroniusMaximus


18 posted on 11/18/2005 10:06:08 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)

To: Gondring

Yup, it's me : Have we communicated before? And, have you already perused my RC/RC(Roche Capture/Remnant Core)theory before on the americanantigravity website? If not I can tell you how it all happened 4.4 billion years ago, plus other concepts. W=P

19 posted on 11/18/2005 11:03:06 PM PST by timer

To: grey_whiskers
Reunite Gondwanaland!

You Gondwanaland Scum! never!

From the

The Pangaea Liberation Organization!


20 posted on 11/18/2005 11:18:48 PM PST by tophat9000 (lose 3000 in an hour and you want to fight, lose 2000 in 2 years and you want to run !???)

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