Small globules stuck in volcanic rocks in Western Australia date back, and researchers have found what they believe is the oldest trace of a meteorite impact, dating back 3.48 billion years!
During the first moments of the Earth, the formation of the solar system was not complete, and the impacts of meteorites were, depending on the time, more common than today. Researchers are trying to find these traces of ancient artifacts: a difficult task, because erosion and plate tectonics have overwhelmed the majority of craters and other geological archives.
Currently, the oldest preserved impact is 2.23 billion years old, and is located in Western Australia. But the results presented in 54H Planetary and Moon Science Conference Beat that age, using another research method that focuses on impacting ballistics layers.
There are two groups of rocks associated with impactChris Yakimchuk said Live ScienceGeologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. The first group is where an ancient crater is still preserved – the oldest is the 2.23-billion-year-old Yarrabubba structure in Western Australia. The second group is where we have fragments of rock and mineral that were created by the impact, that were ejected from the impact crater and are now in the rock.”
The balls indicate an impact 3.48 billion years ago
Researchers made their discovery in globules discovered in 2019 in the volcanic rocks of the Pipara Craton in Australia. It was then dated to 3.48 billion years ago thanks to its unusual isotopic composition. It also contains small bubbles, corresponding to the scattering of molten rock after a meteor strike! Thus, scientists have come to an extraterrestrial origin, in particular thanks to the presence of platinum or iridium in quantities higher than those on Earth.
To date, the oldest cratons of this type date back to 3.47 billion years ago, also from the Pibara craton. Verifications are missing though, which should arrive soon. This new research documents ejecta in rocks that are slightly older, at 3.48 billion years old – about 10 million years older than previously.concluded Chris Yakymchuk. The results appear robust, but access to the full data set is required to confirm their significance.”
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