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Scientists have found the oldest known rocks on Earth. They are 4.28 billion years old, making them 250 million years more ancient than any previously discovered rocks.
In 2001, geologists found an expanse of bedrock, known as the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt, exposed on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec.
Suspecting that the rocks there could be from one of the earliest periods of Earth's history, geologists took samples to try and determine their age. They measured tiny variations in the isotopes (or species of an element that have different numbers of neutrons) of the rare earth elements neodymium and samarium in the rocks and determined that the samples were from 3.8 to 4.28 billion years old.
The oldest dates, which came from rocks that geologists call "faux amphibolite," are thought to be ancient volcanic deposits. They beat the previously oldest known rocks, which are 4.03 billion years old and come from a formation called the Acasta Gneiss in Canada's Northwest Territories.