A new research presented at Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Sacramento, California suggests that The Earth and the Moon may be around 60 million years older than previously thought. The timing of the giant impact between Earth’s ancestor and a planet-sized body occurred around 40 million years after the start of solar system formation, Researchers found. An isotopic signal, which indicates that previous age estimates for both the Earth and the Moon are underestimates, was discovered by Geochemists from the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France.
Earlier, it was was believed that the Earth formed approximately 100 million years after the solar system started to take shape, scientists now say that it was closer to just 40 million years. The conclusion was made on the basis of the ancient gases found in the quartz, which showed astronomers had underestimated the timing of the impact that formed the moon, and in turn the age of the Earth. The study involved analyzing proportions of different gases, dubbed isotopes, which are leftover from those early days.
Also, the xenon gas in South African and Australian quartz that is believed to be between 2.7 and 3.4 billion years old, allowed researchers Guillaume Avice and Bernard Marty to calculate that the ancient impact was about 60 million years older than was thought earlier. The gas sealed in this quartz is preserved as in “time capsule.” Re-calibrating dating techniques using the ancient gas allowed them to refine the estimate of when the Earth began to form. This allows them to calculate that the Moon-forming impact is around 60 million years (+/- 20 m. y.) older than which was thought.
Avice said “It is not possible to give an exact date for the formation of the Earth. What this work does is to show that the Earth is older than we thought, by around 60 million years.”
“The xenon gas signals allow us to calculate when the atmosphere was being formed, which was probably at the time the Earth collided with a planet-sized body, leading to the formation of the Moon. Our results mean that both the Earth and the Moon are older than we thought though it’s not possible to give an exact date for the formation of the Earth,” added Dr. Guillaume Avice.
Co-researcher Dr Bernard Marty also said; “this might seem a small difference – but it’s important, as these differences set time boundaries on how the planets evolved – especially through the major collisions in deep time that shaped the solar system.”