Oldest rocks — Science News, July 21, 1973
Until recently, Greenland possessed the oldest known rocks in the world. They date back 3.7 billion years (SN: 12/9/72, p. 374). Now granite and crystalline schist specimens … suggest that the Antarctic Continent is older. These specimens date back 4 billion years.
At about 4.3 billion years old, bedrock in northeastern Canada currently holds the title of oldest known rock on Earth (SN: 4/15/17, p. 8). In Western Australia, scientists have found zircon crystals in bedrock that are even older, dating to about 4.4 billion years ago. For comparison, Earth is only about 4.5 billion years old.
Since these ancient materials preserve information about early Earth, they have fueled ongoing debates about when and how Earth’s crust formed, when plate tectonics started and even when life on the planet first arose (SN: 2/23/14; SN: 5/2/22; SN: 10/19/15). Additional clues that could help resolve the debates might lie on the moon. Lunar samples collected by Apollo 14 astronauts contain 4-billion-year-old zircons that may have been delivered via an Earth meteor, scientists reported in 2019.