Researchers found a particular type of sedimentary rocks called sandstones and upon verification of their age and conditions they found that the rocks were at least 3.1 billion years old.
A recent study published in the PNAS journal has challenged the widely prevalent view about the origin of the continents. The study has said that contrary to the understanding that continents rose from the oceans 2.5 billion years ago, the continents actually emerged first about 3.2 billion years ago. The study has also said that the earliest continental landmass may have been Indian state Jharkhand’s Singhbhum region. Researchers from India, Australia and the US participated in the study, the Indian Express reported.
Sandstones of Singhbhum region of Jharkhand
During their research, scientists got hold of the sandstones in Singhbhum which had geological signatures of ancient river channels, beaches and tidal plains all of which are estimated to be over 3.2 billion years old. Lead author Dr Priyadarshi Chowdhury, of Monash University, told the Indian Express that sedimentary rocks of the Singhbhum region had answers to the clues about the origin of the first land masses formed on Earth.
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What made researchers conclude the earliest land masses were formed in Singhbhum?
Chowdhury said that the team of researchers found a particular type of sedimentary rocks called sandstones and upon verification of their age and conditions they found that the rocks were at least 3.1 billion years old. The researchers also found that these sandstones were formed in the ancient rivers, beaches, and shallow seas. The researchers then concluded that all these water bodies could not have existed if there was continental land in the Singhbhum region. Chowdhury however added that patches of the earliest continental land were not only exclusive to the Singhbhum region but also available in Australia and South Africa.
As part of the study, researchers studied the granites by which the continental crust of Singhbhum region has been formed. Chowdhury told the Indian Express that the granites are about 3.5 to 3.1 billion years old and were formed by extensive volcanism that continued for millions of years until the whole lot of magma got solidified to create a thick continental crust.