Shop Windows to the Universe

Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
The oldest known rock on Earth is found along the northeast coast of Hudson Bay, Canada.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Jonathan O'Neil

Scientists Discover the Oldest Known Rock on Earth
News story originally written on September 26, 2008

Earth is more than four and a half billion years old. But there are very few things around from the Earthís early days. Thatís because our planet is a great recycler. Most of the rocks that were formed when Earth was young have been mashed, melted, or eroded into sand as plate tectonic forces move them around. So pieces of rock from the Earthís early crust are not easy to find.

But recently, scientists found rocks from Canada that are 250 million years older than any other known rocks. The scientists studied the chemistry of the rocks to find out how old they are. Some of the rock samples were as young as 3.8 billion years old. Others were as much as 4.28 billion years old. These oldest rocks may have formed from ancient volcanoes.

These rocks come from an area on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec called the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt. Scientists have known for several years that the rocks in this area were very old. Now we know how old!

Last modified September 26, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Plate Tectonics

Many forces change the surface of the Earth over time. The largest force that changes our planetís surface is movement of Earth's outer layer in a process called plate tectonics. As shown in this picture,...more

Elements in the Earthís Crust

Whatís the Earth made of? Most of the Earthís outer layer, the crust, is made up of eight types of elements. Oxygen (O) Silicon (Si) Aluminum (Al) Iron (Fe) Calcium (Ca) Sodium (Na) Potassium (K) Magnesium...more

Triggers of Volcanic Eruptions in Oregon's Mount Hood Investigated

Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more

Oldest Earth Mantle Reservoir Discovered

The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more

Itís Not Your Fault Ė A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Some faults look strong and like they wouldnít cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more

Lower Solar Activity Linked to Changes in Sun's Conveyor Belt

The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more

Growth Spurt in Tree Rings Prompts Questions About Climate Change

Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like while the tree was alive. This means that tree rings can tell us about climates of the past. Two...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA