Age of the Earth

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The age of the Earth is around 4.54 billion years (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%).[1][2][3] This age has been determined by radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples. The Sun, in comparison, is about 4.57 billion years old, about 30 million years older.

Following the scientific revolution and the development of radiometric age dating, measurements of lead in uranium-rich minerals showed that some were in excess of a billion years old.[4] The oldest such minerals analyzed to date – small crystals of zircon from the Jack Hills of Western Australia – are at least 4.404 billion years old.[5][6][7] Comparing the mass and luminosity of the Sun to the multitudes of other stars, it appears that the solar system cannot be much older than those rocks. Ca-Al-rich inclusions (inclusions rich in calcium and aluminium) – the oldest known solid constituents within meteorites that are formed within the solar system – are 4.567 billion years old,[8][9] giving an age for the solar system and an upper limit for the age of Earth. It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the Ca-Al-rich inclusions and the meteorites. Because the exact accretion time of Earth is not yet known, and the predictions from different accretion models range from a few millions up to about 100 million years, the exact age of Earth is difficult to determine. It is also difficult to determine the exact age of the oldest rocks on Earth, exposed at the surface, as they are aggregates of minerals of possibly different ages. The Acasta Gneiss of Northern Canada may be the oldest known exposed crustal rock.[10]

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