Clever men and women with hard hats, clipboards and radiometric measuring devices generally agree that the oldest dated material on Earth can be found at Eranondoo, WA.

The planet Earth has been accused of being a wide variety of ages since the dawn of time, ranging (depending on your particular belief set) from 6000 years to many, many millions of times older than that. Clever men and women with hardhats, clipboards and radiometric measuring devices now generally agree, however, that the oldest known and dated materials on the planet are fragments of zircon crystals found in an outcrop atop Eranondoo Hill in WA’s Jack Hills about 900km northeast of Perth.

Clocked at a staggering 4.404 billion years old, these materials are thought to have formed mere moments (a few hundred million years, give or take) after the Earth itself was formed.

Interestingly, since these super ancient materials are crystalline, there’s some suggestion that even in the earliest millennia of its creation the Earth was cool enough to support surface water – and not a magma ocean as previously believed. (Although, visiting the boiling hot region now, it’s far easier to believe the magma theory.)

Where // The Jack Hills are in WA’s Murchison Region, 350km northeast of Geraldton, 100km west of Meekatharra.

Did you know? // The Jack Hills zircon samples date from what’s informally called the Cryptic Era (which suggests geologists are often as confused as the rest of us), a time when the Earth and Moon were formed.

 

Enjoy this article?

You can find it in Issue 20 along with
loads of other great stories and tips.

BUY THIS ISSUE