Manage episode 361251133 series 3293313
In a recent episode, Nadja Drabon spoke about newly discovered zircon crystals that formed during the late Hadean and early Archean, when the Earth was between 500 million and a billion years old. The zircons revealed information about processes occurring in the Earth’s nascent crust, casting light on when and how modern-day plate tectonics may have started. In this episode, we talk about a very different source of information about the early Earth, namely the abundances of noble gases occurring within present-day basalts. It turns out that these can probe the Earth’s mantle and atmosphere even further back in time – to the first 100 million years of Earth history.
Sujoy Mukhopadhyay leads a team of researchers who have developed new techniques for measuring the abundances of noble gas isotopes in a variety of Earth materials. By combining the results of these measurements with geochemical models, he has shed light on questions about the very early Earth and planet formation that have challenged researchers for decades. Here we focus on one of these: “Do any structures originating from the very early Earth survive in today’s mantle?” Amazingly, the answer is "yes."
Sujoy Mukhopadhyay is Professor of Geochemistry at the University of California, Davis.