Zircon chronology: Dating the oldest material on Earth

What are the oldest rocks on Earth, and how did they form? The material that holds the greatest insight into these fundamental questions, because it can contain a record of some of the earliest history of the Earth, is a mineral named zircon.

For example, a few grains of zircon found in the early 1990s in a sandstone from western Australia dates back 4.2–4.3 billion years, and we know from meteorites that the Earth is not much older at 4.56 billion years. Geology professors Darrell Henry of Louisiana State University and Paul Mueller of the University of Florida are expert practitioners of several techniques that can extract precise age information from zircons. They’re searching for some of the oldest rocks in the continental crust, for the zircons within them, and for the clues the zircons contain about the formation of the planet.

Kenmare Resources plc (LON:KMR) is an established mining company, which operates the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine, located on the north east coast of Mozambique.

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