Researchers have identified a meteorite about 2 million years older than planet Earth. The rock was found last year in the middle of the Sahara desert, in Algeria, and its structure was analyzed by a team of French and Japanese scientists. According to the results of the study, the meteorite was formed during the early eras of the Solar System.
The team identified that its formation occurred by volcanic processes and took at least 100,000 years to cool and harden. Because of this, the guess is that the rock is a fragment of a protoplanet that was destroyed before it stabilized.
Named Erg Chech 002 (or EC 002), the meteorite has a very curious and rare composition. Although most of the volcanic meteorites found on Earth are made of basalt, it is made up of andesite. This rock is concentrated in the subduction zones, that is, where the tectonic plates collided and one was pushed under the other.
Because it is very old, it holds important information about the process of formation of the planet. Despite this, when crossing the data of the elements that make up the EC 002 and the information available for asteroids, the team found nothing that corresponded to the composition of the meteorite.
“This meteorite is the oldest magmatic rock analyzed to date and sheds light on the formation of the primordial crusts that covered the oldest protoplanets,” wrote the scientists.
Oldest meteorite ever discovered
When analyzing the aluminum and magnesium isotopes present in EC 002, the researcher Jean-Alix Barrat and his colleagues found that the two minerals crystallized about 4.565 billion years ago. Considering that the estimated age of the Earth is 4.540 billion years, the meteorite wins in terms of age.
This is the first time that geologists have such an ancient rock to study, which indicates that new discoveries about this meteorite will be published over the next few years.