New Set of Oldest Rocks Found In Canada

on October 4, 2008

BBC News: “Team Finds Earth's ‘Oldest Rocks’” Humbly lying on the tundra shores of Canada’s Hudson Bay are the world’s oldest rocks—4.28 billion years old, to be exact, maybe.

A team publishing in Science reports on a sample of Nuvvuagittuq greenstone that has been dated 250 million years older than any other rocks.

According to McGill University geologist Don Francis, a coauthor on the study, the rocks contain a “very special chemical signature . . . that can only be found in rocks which are very, very old.” But Francis also says the signature has been found nowhere else on earth.

The Nuvvuagittuq rocks were dated to between 3.8 and 4.28 billion years old by the Carnegie Institution, which used radiometric methods.

Previously, the supposed oldest rocks were thought to be 4.03 billion years old, and were also from Canada—from Acasta Gneiss in the Northwest Territories. Additionally, tiny zircons (a kind of mineral grain) from Western Australia have been dated to 4.36 billion years old. (We reported on this find in News to Note, July 5, 2008, item #2.)

The Nuvvuagittuq rocks were dated to between 3.8 and 4.28 billion years old by the Carnegie Institution, which used radiometric methods (testing for decay of neodymium to samarium). Francis commented that he “favors” the 4.28 billion-year-old date, but BBC News doesn’t report why; our guess is that the newsworthiness of the older date may have something to do with it.

Accompanying the geological speculation is hype on the possibility that the rocks bear evidence of “activity by ancient life forms.” The root of the hype is the banded iron formation in the rocks, which incorporates magnetite and quartz; the banding is a typical feature of rock from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. So the conjecture is that these rocks were formed at the bottom of an ancient ocean.

Additionally, evolutionists have identified these warm vents as a possible habitat for the earliest (evolutionary) life-forms, and “some people” (Francis’s words) believe that bacteria are required for the formation of this type of rock, indicating that this is the oldest evidence of life. But he adds:

“But if I were to say that, people would yell and scream and say that there is no hard evidence.”

Thus, while apparently many hope the rocks found by Francis’s team will show signs of life, there’s nothing but hype so far. Of course, it’s never surprising what thin connection can pass for evidence, so even if no further signs of life are found, some evolutionists may nonetheless regard the discovery as circumstantial evidence for ancient microbial life.

As for our view, we take issue with the dating of the rock (see the links below), though not necessarily with its possible connection to microbial life of some form. The rocks could be “ancient” (laid down during Creation Week just over 6000 years ago).The connection to oceanic and geological forces—and even to microbial life, if that were established—would be unsurprising and would fit well within the creation model. For background information, start with Thirty Miles of Dirt in a Day and Microbes and the Days of Creation.

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