4.6-billion-year-old meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock ever found

meteorite

That is the oldest chunk of volcanic rock ever unearthed

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum/Darryl Pitt

The oldest volcanic rock we now have ever found might assist us perceive the constructing blocks of planets. The meteorite, which was found within the Sahara desert in 2020, dates from simply 2 million years after the formation of the photo voltaic system – making it greater than 1,000,000 years older than the earlier record-holder.

“I’ve been engaged on meteorites for greater than 20 years now, and that is probably essentially the most unbelievable new I’ve ever seen,” says Jean-Alix Barrat on the College of Western Brittany in France. When he and his colleagues analysed the meteorite, referred to as Erg Chech 002 or EC 002, they discovered that it was in contrast to some other meteorite we now have ever positioned.

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It’s a sort of rock referred to as andesite that, on Earth, is discovered largely in subduction zones – areas the place tectonic plates have collided and one has been pushed beneath the opposite – and barely in meteorites. A lot of the meteorites found on Earth are manufactured from one other sort of volcanic rock referred to as basalt. Evaluation of the chemical make-up of the brand new meteorite confirmed that it was as soon as molten, and solidified almost 4.6 billion years in the past.

This implies it was in all probability a part of the crust of an historic protoplanet that broke up early within the photo voltaic system’s previous. No known asteroid seems like EC 002, which signifies that nearly none of those relics nonetheless exist: almost all of them have both crashed collectively to kind planets or been smashed to bits.

“While you go near the start of the photo voltaic system, it’s increasingly sophisticated to get samples,” says Barrat. “We in all probability is not going to discover one other pattern older than this one.”

The researchers’ evaluation confirmed that it took the magma that makes up EC 002 a minimum of 100,000 years to chill and solidify after it melted, which can point out that it was unusually viscous. Additional examine of this artefact from the early photo voltaic system may assist us perceive how the planets, together with Earth, fashioned.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2026129118

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