Scientist Discovers When Earth’s First Continent Was Formed

Scientist discovers when Earth's first continent was formed. Photo: Pexels
Scientist discovers when Earth’s first continent was formed. Photo: Pexels

A researcher has discovered that the Earth’s first continent was formed 3 billion years ago, in a new article shedding light on the early phases of the planet’s life.

Jane Greaves, a professor of astronomy at the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University in Wales, was examining the formation of continents on distant stars and planets.

It is believed that exoplanets with continents that formed similarly to Earth’s are more likely to be habitable and might even contain alien life.

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In the process, she calculated the age of continents on various distant planets, as well as those a bit closer.

Earth’s continents rest atop the planet’s warm and viscous mantle. The heat from the inner core prevents the mantle from solidifying. The reason the core is hot is because it contains radioactive elements from neutron star collisions billions of years ago, such as forms of Uranium, Thorium, and Potassium.

By analyzing how many materials like these are present on Earth and other planets, we can also estimate when the continents of these planets formed. Some of them, according to the study, formed 4 to 5 billion years before Earth, making them likely to be habitable and perhaps even contain alien life.

The study, “When did the first exocontinents arise?” was published by the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.

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