History of the Earth: Vaalbará, the first supercontinent

History of the Earth: Vaalbará, the first supercontinent



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Vaalbara is the name by which the first supercontinent that hypothetically existed on our planet. Earth was formed 4.567 million years ago, and it is estimated that this supercontinent was born between 3,800 - 3,600 million years ago.

His existence is believed to be largely confirmed thanks to geochronological and paleomagnetic studies carried out on the two archaic cratons Kaapvaal (South Africa) and Pilbara (Australia), where studies indicate that these existed 3.3 billion years ago.

The cratons as proof of the existence of Vaalbará

A craton, also called a cratogen, is a continental mass that it has an enormous rigidity that it has reached in its geological past, and that since then it has not suffered any type of fragmentation or deformation.

While there is many theories about its true existence, many scientists rely on the cratons mentioned, which have similar early Precambrian shell sequences.

Both the granite and greenstone terrain of the Kaapvaal Craton, and the eastern block of the Pilbara Craton, show evidence of four very large meteorite impacts between 3,200 and 3,500 million years ago.

The high temperatures created by the force of the impact, fused the sediments into small vitreous spherules, and in both South Africa and Australia some of up to 3.5 billion years, being the oldest known materials obtained from an impact on Earth.

Origin of life in Vaalbará

In these cratons we find some of the oldest rocks in the world, which contain archaic microfossils very well preserved.

A series of international drilling projects have revealed traces of microbial life and photosynthesis of archaea in Africa and Australia, being the oldest evidence widely accepted by science.

These fossils have been interpreted as traces of eukaryotes and cyanobacteriaAlthough current discussions lead one to think that these biomarkers would not be that old, but would have entered the rock much later.

Current estimates place the last common eukaryotic ancestor between 1,866 and 1,679 million years. If the fossils found in the Pilbara are traces of early eukaryotes, would represent groups that became extinct before modern groups emerged.

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