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17: (Case Study) Earth's oldest rocks

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    When did Earth really become Earth? We’ve learned about how the solar system formed and the earliest stages in Earth formation in the case study exploring the nebular theory and the formation of the solar system. Early Earth grew through the process of collision and accretion of nebular material that ranged in size from space dust to planetesimals, perhaps some as large as small planets. We have dated Earth at 4.567 billion years (Ga) based on lead isotope data from meteorites [1]. Meteorites are the “ingredients” that formed Earth and the other terrestrial planets. This “birth of Earth” date is assigned to the onset of accretion, not at a point in which Earth had largely attained its full, accreted mass [2], [3].

    This page titled 17: (Case Study) Earth's oldest rocks is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Callan Bentley, Karen Layou, Russ Kohrs, Shelley Jaye, Matt Affolter, and Brian Ricketts (VIVA, the Virginia Library Consortium) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.