Skip to Main Content

A cool early Earth

John W. Valley, William H. Peck, Elizabeth M. King and Simon A. Wilde
A cool early Earth
Geology (Boulder) (April 2002) 30 (4): 351-354


No known rocks have survived from the first 500 m.y. of Earth history, but studies of single zircons suggest that some continental crust formed as early as 4.4 Ga, 160 m.y. after accretion of the Earth, and that surface temperatures were low enough for liquid water. Surface temperatures are inferred from high delta (super 18) O values of zircons. The range of delta (super 18) O values is constant throughout the Archean (4.4-2.6 Ga), suggesting uniformity of processes and conditions. The hypothesis of a cool early Earth suggests long intervals of relatively temperate surface conditions from 4.4 to 4.0 Ga that were conducive to liquid- water oceans and possibly life. Meteorite impacts during this period may have been less frequent than previously thought.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 30
Serial Issue: 4
Title: A cool early Earth
Affiliation: University of Wisconsin, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Madison, WI, United States
Pages: 351-354
Published: 200204
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 29
Accession Number: 2002-030930
Categories: StratigraphySolid-earth geophysics
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2002034, available at
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: Curtin University of Technology, AUS, Australia
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200211
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal