As per a new study led by a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, it has been revealed that the early Earth could have been in a habitable situation much earlier than it was thought. While on their mission of counting strontium atoms within rocks from Northern Canada, they found positive proof whereby they came to know that continental crust of Earth could have formed millions of years ago than it was thought to be.
Continental crust is believed to be much more productive with the essential minerals than the younger volcanic rock which would have resulted in supporting life significantly, and it would have been much friendlier. According to Patrick Boehnke who is the Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geophysical Sciences and the first author on the paper suggested that the evidence collected by them are in line with the recent evidence including rocks which are available in Western America. This finding suggests that the Earth had the capability of evolving the continental crust within 350 million years of the formation of the solar system. This finding differs from the usual view which said that the crust was hot and dry and in a hellish condition half a billion years ago post its formation.
One of the most popular question in geology is the fact that how some of the crust got converted into a continental crust which is found to be much lighter and richer in silica. Finding an answer to such a question is getting more difficult because the evidence receives melted and reformed as time goes by. One of the few places on Earth where one can find bits of crust from the ancient past would still be embedded in the younger rocks.
However, scientists have found out that these “younger” minerals, which are 3.9 billion years ago formed, are known as zircons. These elements are very hard and also weather resistant minerals and are somewhat similar to the features of that of diamonds. These zircons are very favorable for the scientists because these are the only materials which give geologists information about Earth three or four billion years ago. According to Boehnke, diamonds are not forever, but zircons are.
Also, zircon themselves cannot be dated. According to Prof. Andrew Davis who is the head of the Department of Geophysical Sciences has said that zircons are like labeled time capsules.