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What are the oldest rocks on Earth, and how did they form?The material that holds the greatest insight into these fundamental questions, because it can contain a record of some of the earliest history of the Earth, is a mineral named zircon.For example, a temperature of 700°C and high pressure of several thousand times atmospheric pressure imply that it had been deep in the crust at some time during its geologic history.” He infers what has happened to the rocks, but not how long ago it happened.
Meanwhile, the core of the zircon itself remains unchanged, and preserves the chemical characteristics of the rock in which it originally crystallized.
Zircon contains the radioactive element uranium, which Dr.
For example, a few grains of zircon found in the early 1990s in a sandstone from western Australia dates back 4.2–4.3 billion years, and we know from meteorites that the Earth is not much older at 4.56 billion years.
Geology professors Darrell Henry of Louisiana State University and Paul Mueller of the University of Florida are expert practitioners of several techniques that can extract precise age information from zircons.
Isotopic compositions can be determined with an ion probe.
Do we want to look at the whole grain, or should we direct a tiny beam of oxygen ions, 300 micrometers in diameter, on parts of the zircon grain to analyze for U (uranium) and Pb (lead) isotopes so we can date that spot and dissect the zircon’s individual history?
“The electrons irradiate the sample, causing atoms within the sample itself to give off X-rays.
Each of the atoms of the different elements in the sample gives off X-rays with characteristic wavelengths.
“For example, there may be a granite which contains pieces of other types of rocks enclosed in the granite.
Because of their position, we know that the rocks enclosed in the granite have to be older.” Geologists map an area to identity these relative age relationships.
Quantitative microanalysis of the elements in zircon is done with an electron microprobe.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating