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4.4 billion-year-old crystal found in 2001 is oldest piece of Earth

FOX6Now.com

stone-300 (CNN) — From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know. Scientists say they have dated an ancient crystal called a zircon to about 4.4 billion years, making it the earliest confirmed piece of the planet’s crust. The findings — the first to describe the zircon — were published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday.

“This is the oldest and the best dated of all the crystals that have been reported,” said John Valley, lead study author and professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This crystal is a translucent red, Valley said, but glows blue when bombarded with electrons. At 400 micrometers long, its biggest dimension is just a tad larger than a house dust mite, or about four human hairs.

The crystal was found in an arid region north of Perth, Australia, in a low range of hills…

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