Earth’s Oldest Rock Found on the Moon

Cristina Cross
January 29, 2019

So when the Apollo 14 astronauts collected it nearly exactly 48 years ago - between January 31 and February 6, 1971 - they thought it was an organic sample that would provide information about the moon and its composition.

The oldest intact Earth rock might have been found by scientists on the moon. According to an global team of researchers, the two-gram piece of quartz, feldspar, and zircon was found embedded in a larger rock called Big Bertha.

According to the release, "Previous work by the team showed that impacting asteroids at that time were producing craters thousands of kilometers in diameter on Earth, sufficiently large to bring material from those depths to the surface". "While the Hadean Earth is a reasonable source for the sample, the first find of this kind may be a challenge for the geologic community to digest". Imagine the surprise when scientists found that one such rock was terrestrial in origin - to top it all off, it's also Earth's oldest rock found thus far.

It was then returned to the surface around 26 million years ago, during the impact event that produced the Cone Crater - where it remained until Big Bertha was collected by Apollo 14 astronauts just a few decades ago. But, that proved to be the Earth's oldest rock ever discovered, and it revealed more info about our planet's early history instead of showing more about the Moon composition.

It partially melted 3.9 billion years ago which buried it under the surface.

In a new study, they describe how they believe the two gram fragment was hurled into space during a massive asteroid strike around four billion years ago, subsequently striking the Moon and coming to rest on its surface. The twist is that this particular rock wasn't discovered on Earth at all.

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An ancient Earth relic was found on the Moon. This helped toss the rock back to the moon's surface.

The Apollo 14 fragment "is technically a 'rock, ' whereas the Jack Hills [minerals] are individual, contextless crystals", Bellucci told the magazine in an email.

"By determining the age of zircon found in the sample, we were able to pinpoint the age of the host rock at about 4 billion years old, making it similar to the oldest rocks on Earth", said professor Alexander Nemchin, author of the paper. Scientists believe that a powerful impact, possibly a comet or asteroid, may have resulted in the transportation.

Previously, the oldest known fragment of Earth rock was a zircon crystal from Western Australia.

The team acknowledged that the fragment could have formed deep beneath the moon's surface, but it's much more likely it formed on Earth. However, conditions at no other time gathered from lunar examples would be required along with an example, in the lunar mantle, to have framed at huge profundities where many other rocks were combined together. However, they had no idea that the fragment would contain a piece from Earth which probably was blasted from our planet by an impact and it crashed into the moon.

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