By Jennifer Leighfield • 12 March 2021 • 2:07
THE oldest meteorite ever found has been proved to be older than Earth itself.
The meteorite, which was discovered in the Algerian part of the Sahara desert, dates back to 4.6 billion years ago, before Earth was actually formed.
And it is not only its age which is of interest, its analysis has also shown that it formed volcanically, meaning it was once part of a protoplanet.
“Several stones containing large distinctive greenish crystals were found in May 2020 near Bir Ben Tagoul, in southern Algeria, within the Arak Shish Sea of Sands.
No other asteroid is known to look like EC 002 (the meteorite’s official name), as there are hardly any others so old. Most have not reached Earth, but have recombined into planets or been smashed into tiny pieces.
Most meteorites which have been found are made of non-melted stone, while EC 002 is a volcanic rock. Most are made of basalt, an igneous rock formed by the rapid cooling of basalt lava at the surface, which is very common both on Earth and other parts of the solar system.
Andesite, present in EC 002, is similar, but has a different chemical composition and originates in areas where tectonic plates destroy each other.
It may have taken more than 100,000 for the lava to solidify, and this can reveal details about its properties and environment.
Earth is 4.54 billion years old, so the meteorite is older than Earth.
“This meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock that has been analyzed so far and sheds light on the primitive crust formation that covered the oldest protoplanets, researchers wrote in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. It can shed new light on how our part of the universe formed and evolved.
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Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics.
Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.
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