Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Geologists from Münster have found rock material from the Earth's proto-crust

In eastern India a team of scientists from the University of Münster has discovered rocks of a primeval material dating back to the time of the Earth's formation.

The material was formed around four and a half to four billion years ago - in the Earth's so-called Hadean Eon. This is only the second find of its kind in the world, and it shows that certain areas in the upper sections of the Earth's crust can stay untouched for billions of years, thereby storing information from the Earth's earliest years. The researchers have published their results in the latest issue of the prestigious magazine "Nature".

In the earliest period of its history - the Hadean Eon - the Earth was surrounded by an ocean of molten rock which slowly solidified. The scientists from the Institute of Mineralogy at WWU - Dr. Dewashish Upadhyay, Prof. Erik Scherer and Prof. Klaus Mezger - have demonstrated with their find that material from the Earth's proto-crust is still traceable in today's crust, even though this is in constant movement and rock material of varying ages has, in the course of time, been mixed in.

The only other find of this kind was made around a year ago in Canada and made the headlines at the time. "Every find that provides insights into the time the Earth was formed is virgin territory," says Prof. Mezger. This explains why this second find is so significant.

The magmatic rocks come from the State of Orissa in India. They were formed from material that came into being over four billion years ago. About 1.5 billion years ago this melted and formed the new rocks in the upper sections of the Earth's crust at a depth of more than 40 kilometres. As a result of movements in the Earth's crust and weathering processes the rocks finally reached the Earth's surface, which is where they were found by the team of Münster researchers.

"As our Earth is a very active planet, geologically speaking," says Prof. Mezger, "the rocks are constantly worked on, for example through weathering or melting. This means that the rock material to be found today on the Earth's surface is very old. The minerals making up these rocks are, however, much younger. It's a bit like baking a cake: you have the flour before you have the cake." After this second find of rocks from primeval material the scientists now suspect that there is yet more of this material from the Hadean Eon on the Earth's surface - only no one has yet discovered it.

An additional factor is that any analysis of the rock samples is very elaborate. The scientists found proof of the enormous age of the material providing the basis for the much younger magmatic rocks by examining the abundance of a certain isotope of the element neodymium.

In the case of such old rock material this abundance differs from the known mean value for the Earth. "In future," says Prof. Mezger, "it will be very interesting to pinpoint such old areas in the Earth's crust and take samples there. This would give us a better understanding of the history of the Earth's development in its formative years."

References: Upadhyay D., Scherer E. and Mezger K. (2009): 142Nd evidence for an enriched Hadean reservoir in cratonic roots. Nature 459, 1118-1121 | doi:10.1038

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>