Rock Found In Sahara Desert Is Older Than Earth, It's 4.5 Billion Years Old - Happy Boss

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Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Rock Found In Sahara Desert Is Older Than Earth, It's 4.5 Billion Years Old

Researchers have discovered a hunk of meteoric rock in the merciless Sahara desert that’s actually older than Earth. The rock is a rare piece of an embryonic planet that existed even before our planet came into existence. 

The meteorite which has been named Erg Chech 002 or EC 002, according to researchers was created within the crust of an ancient protoplanet -- essentially known as a building block for planets. This, according to them, is the oldest known lava that has fallen to the Earth. It also offers a perspective on the way planets were formed during the early days of the solar system.

The rock was discovered in Algeria’s Erg Chech dune sea, that is also how it got its name. It actually consists of several meteorites that together weigh around 70 pounds. After getting their hands on the samples, researchers were able to discover when this piece of crust that melted as lava, crystallized into a solid form.

Protoplanet meteorite rock

Research of magnesium and aluminium isotopes dated the rock back to 4.566 billion years ago, which is the oldest known piece of igneous rock ever found, according to the study. To put things in perspective, the last known oldest igneous meteorite dubbed NWA 11119 is around 1.24 million years younger than EC002. Earth on the other hand only emerged several million years after these rocks came into existence. 

The meteorite is 58 percent silicon dioxide that suggests that it is an ancient parent body with a crust made from andesite rock -- different from basalt rock that’s otherwise commonly found in volcanic regions around our planet. They reveal that these crusts were commonly found in asteroids and protoplanets during the solar system’s early days but have become extremely rare today. 

The study was led by Jean-Alix Barrat, a professor of geochemistry at the University of Western Brittany, in France. She explained in the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “EC 002 is clearly distinguishable from all asteroid groups, and no object with spectral characteristics similar to EC 002 has been identified to date,” while claiming that “the remnants of primordial crusts are not only rare in the meteorite record, but they are also rare today in the asteroid belt.”


Researchers added, “This suggests that the earliest differentiated protoplanets that populated the solar system, as well as most of their debris, were certainly destroyed or subsequently accreted to the growing rocky planets, making the discovery of meteorites originating from primordial crusts an exceptional occurrence."

They are of the belief that EC 002 was ejected from its parent body, decades after the protoplanet’s crust cooled and crystallized while also showcasing details about the evolving cores of the planets in a time when Earth didn’t exist.

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