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Earth 60 Million Years Older Than Originally Thought, Researchers Say

Image: Earth 60 Million Years Older Than Originally Thought, Researchers Say

By    |   Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 08:24 AM

Scientists said Earth and its moon are 60 million years older than previously thought. The moon was created when Theia, a rock roughly the size of Mars, collided violently with our planet.

According to Fox News, researchers at the University of Lorraine in France told attendees at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Sacramento, California, that they made their discovery by analyzing ancient quartz crystals. By crushing the crystals, the team was able to access the xenon gases trapped inside.

"The gas sealed in these quartz samples has been handed down to us in a sort of 'time capsule,'" said geochemist Guillaume Avice. "We are using standard methods to compute the age of the Earth, but having access to these ancient samples gives us new data, and allows us to refine the measurement."

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It is commonly held that the moon was formed when an object named Theia smashed into Earth. The cataclysm produced a giant cloud of debris that eventually formed the moon. The ratios of xenon isotopes have changed from the time of Earth's collision with Theia to today, and by examining those ratios scientists were able to better determine the date of that collision.

Avice emphasized that the exact date of Earth's formation is nearly impossible to determine, but noted that, "What this work does is to show that the Earth is older than we thought, by around 60 million years."

Bernard Marty, another chemist on the team, said, "This might seem a small difference, but it is important. These differences set time boundaries on how the planets evolved, especially through the major collisions in deep time which shaped the solar system."

The Daily Mail reported that Earth was originally estimated to have formed about 100 million years after the solar system formed. The new estimate states that in reality it was likely closer to 40 million years after.

The quartz crystals used by the researchers came from South Africa and Australia, which were each roughly 3 billion years old.

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Scientists said Earth and its moon are 60 million years older than previously thought. The moon was created when Theia, a rock roughly the size of Mars, collided violently with our planet.
earth, 60 million years older
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2014-24-12
Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 08:24 AM
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