4.4-Billion-Year-Old Gem Is Oldest Piece Of Earth’s Crust

A relatively unknown sheep ranch in Western Australia became an instant tourist spot after it yielded the oldest slice of Earth we know today. And to put it mildly, the discovery was one gem of a gem.

A True Gem

Zircon
Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com

According to a report from the BBC, a tiny piece of crystal has been found to be the oldest piece of the Earth’s crust to be discovered. The gem is twice the width of a human hair and is barely visible to the naked eye. Scientists estimate that the precious stone is at least 4.4 billion years old.

The gem was discovered on a sheep station in the Jack Hills region of Western Australia.

A Treasured Discovery

The findings—the first to describe the zircon gem were published Sunday, February 23, in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“This is the oldest and the best dated of all the crystals that have been reported,” said John Valley, lead study author and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Geoscience, according to a report from CNN.

The crystal is a translucent red but glows blue when bombarded with electrons, Valley was quoted as saying. The gem is a zircon crystal, which is already known to be the oldest material formed on Earth.