The journal Nature published a study by scientists from the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences (Australia), proving that the fall of giant meteorites led to the formation of continents on our planet. phys.org reports.
The idea itself has been around for decades, but there was no convincing evidence to support it before. Australian scientists managed to find them by examining crystals of the mineral zircon in rocks from the Pilbara. From a geological point of view, this region in Western Australia is considered one of the oldest on Earth: formations that are already 3.6 billion years old have been preserved here - while the age of the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years.
“The study of the composition of oxygen isotopes in zircon crystals revealed a “downward” process, starting with the melting of rocks near the surface and progressing deeper, which is consistent with the geological effect of giant meteorite impacts,” the authors of the study report. The fall of meteorites was the trigger of the processes that led to the formation of continents. Just like billions of years before, meteorite impacts caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The Pilbara is one of the places that emerged as a result of the formation of the earliest land masses. Data relating to other areas of ancient continental crust also show similar patterns. The authors of the study are going to test their discovery on these ancient rocks to see how universal their hypothesis is.