Building blocks for life on Earth arrived much later than we thought, billion-year-old rocks show

The rocks the team analysed are the oldest preserved mantle rocks. They allow us to see into the early history of the Earth as if through a window. Credit: UNSW

Ancient rocks from Greenland have shown that the elements necessary for the evolution of life did not come to Earth until very late in the planet’s formation—much later than previously thought.

An international team of geologists—led by the University of Cologne and involving UNSW scientists—have published important new findings about the origin of oceans and life on Earth: they have found evidence that a large proportion of the elements that are essential to the formation of oceans and life—such as water, carbon and nitrogen—only came to Earth very late in its history.
Many scientists previously believed that these elements had already been there at the beginning of our planet’s formation. However, the…

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