Joined: Aug. 2007
A new technique has been helping scientists piece together how the Earth's continents were arranged 2.5 billion years ago.
From the BBC:
|But until now, researchers have been unable to determine the ages of many of these ancient rocks because of the difficulty in extracting the minerals used to date them. |
The researchers are dealing with such small mineral crystals - typically much less than 100 microns long - that grains are far smaller than the width of a human hair.
But with the development of new techniques, minerals - such as baddeleyite - can now be successfully recovered.
Baddeleyite is useful because it incorporates large amounts of uranium into its crystal-structure, and because uranium naturally decays to lead.
Scientists also know the rate at which this happens, so they can use these minerals as radioactive "clocks".
They then need to measure the amounts of uranium and lead very precisely.
In a large, international project, researchers hope to collect and date 250 rocks from around the world, and use this information to reconstruct how these continental fragments were once together to form giant landmasses that existed 2.5 billion years ago.
I would expect AiG to have this featured on their "news to note" this coming Saturday and Snelling to reject it fairly soon afterwards (probably in ARJ)