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Contact: John Valley
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Zircon Crystal

Caption: A 4.4 billion-year-old zircon crystal is providing new insight into how the early Earth cooled from a ball of magma and formed continents just 160 million years after the formation of our solar system, much earlier than previously believed. The zircon, pictured here, is from the Jack Hills region of Australia and is now confirmed to be the oldest bit of the Earth's crust.

Credit: John Valley

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Related news release: Oldest bit of crust firms up idea of a cool early Earth

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