Giant meteorite strikes in Earth's distant history may have helped form continents - Space.com

Giant meteorite strikes in Earth's distant history may have helped form continents - Space.com

Giant meteorite strikes in Earth's distant history may have helped form continents - Space.com
Aug 16, 2022 1 min, 15 secs

Tiny crystals of zircon could be geological evidence that the continents were born at meteor impact sites.

New evidence supports the idea that Earth's continents were created in its distant past when massive meteorites struck the planet. .

A team of researchers from Curtin University in Australia found that Earth's continents may have formed at the sites of meteorite impacts, which were much more common in the early history of the solar system.

Earth is currently the only planet which we know to possess continents and until now researchers haven't been entirely sure why this is.

"By examining tiny crystals of the mineral zircon in rocks from the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, which represents Earth's best-preserved remnant of ancient crust, we found evidence of these giant meteorite impacts," Tim Johnson, a geologist at Curtin University and lead author of the new research, said in a statement.

A meteorite is a space rock that survives its journey through the atmosphere of Earth to strike the surface of the planet.

Johnson and his colleagues' findings imply that similar impacts were shaping Earth's geology billions of years earlier than this notorious event, they argue.

— Earth's oldest known impact crater may tell us a lot about our planet's frozen past.

And early signs are promising for the theory that ancient meteorite strikes created the continents, the researchers argue.

"Data related to other areas of ancient continental crust on Earth appears to show patterns similar to those recognized in Western Australia," Johnson concluded.

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