Scientists discovered that Greenland hosts such a unique part of history and supports evidence of the origin of life – the World’s Oldest Rock. The 'mighty' rock is at least 3.8 billion years old, and it was discovered in 2007, off the coast of Greenland, on an Island. After seemingly an endless and almost hopeless search for unmetamorphosed rocks, a team of geologists, led by Allen Nutman, discovered chunks of ancient rocks, older than any other rock existing. While rocks have been a crucial part of history, this stunning geological finding is a discovery worth every traveler's time! Looking for the world's oldest rock? Head no further than Greenland.
The Discovery Of The World’s Oldest Rock
The world’s oldest rock discovered in Greenland is approximately 300 million years older than other fossil records. The scientists involved in the discovery pored over the rock for signs of life. They found indirective evidence, which includes chemical signs of sulfur and carbon. According to the team, microbes’ actions might have led to the existence of these isotopes.
To get a hold of more straightforward evidence, scientists looked for rocks that were less altered or completely untouched by metamorphism. The operation was very difficult to carry out. However, after a while, Allen's team reported having found something finally – thanks to the rainfall that occurred in the early spring, which removed the snow from the largely unmetamorphosed ISB outcrop in Greenland.
The newly discovered ancient chunks of rock consisted of two sites with different shapes (cons and peaks). The differing outcrops in shape were made up of some regular internal layers that appeared thin. How did the geologists test if they are the oldest fossils? Well, once discovered, they took the outcrops and set them against a different background in the rock having a completely different chemical structure as well as texture. The scientists placed the rocks in shallow ocean waters together. There was strong proof that microbial life existed in the rocks, confirming that the fossils are the oldest ever discovered on earth. Sediment structures that look like stromatolites can form without the involvement of microbial life.
The geologists said that outcrops' shapes were very interesting to study, although they were tiny, with few structures to give more details of the discovery. Their overall shapes survived the process, but the texture and chemical structures were reduced significantly. Scientists claimed that finer details had been erased by age and other activities including metamorphism.
- Length: 35 km (22 mi)
Nutman reported that his team of geologists has worked on very old rocks on earth, and they have the experience. Scientific research in Isua, Greenland began in the 1970s. It took the geologists over 40 years to discover the oldest rock on earth! According to the team leader, it was surprising to find an area with surviving stromatolites. The discovery strongly proves the existence of life earlier than people anticipated. Nutman suggested the possibility of more discoveries of older outcrops in the same area if scientists keep digging.
This discovery has shaped the perception of most scientists on the origin of life on Earth. Previously, it had been quite difficult to ascertain beyond doubt that life existed about 3.4 million years ago.
The World's Oldest Rock As A Tourist Attraction
Located in the Isukasia Terran, in the Southwest of Greenland, Nuuk region, the Isua Greenstone Belt has become a major tourist attraction following the discovery of the world’s oldest rock in its formation. Visitors can tour the many volcanoes found within the spots of this discovery. The best part of this discovery? The oldest rock was discovered on an Island! People love Island, giving travelers more to explore other than the main attraction.
Moreover, Nuuk is Greenland's capital city and one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country. Since the Nuuk region is close to the discovery's site, one can start exploring Greenland from the Nuuk. Visit the Greenland National Museum, famous for its collections of ancient hunting tools, carvings, kayaks, and Vikings. Plus, the museum hosts a series of scientific discoveries and arts.
In the museum, there is a geological section that emphasizes the World's oldest rock that geologists discovered in the Nuuk region. After exploring the Greenland National Museum, one can then head to Isua Breenstone Belt to experience where the scientists discovered the rock.
Best Time To Visit World’s Oldest Rock
Throughout the year, much of Greenland is locked under the ice. Between May to September (summer months), the ice melts, making it the perfect time to tour around the ISB Volcanoes and explore the world's oldest rock. During that time, temperatures are at their highest, and visitors get to see exposed rock due to the melting of the snow.
A visit to Isua Breenstone Belt in Greenland would be a fascinating experience anyone wouldn’t want to miss. Every visitor deserves a chance to explore the discovery of the world’s oldest rock in Greenland.