Earth science: In the beginning. . .

@article{Halliday2001EarthSI,
  title={Earth science: In the beginning. . .},
  author={Alexander N. Halliday},
  journal={Nature},
  year={2001},
  volume={409},
  pages={144-145}
}
Grains of the mineral zircon have survived from way back in Earth's history. Analysis of these grains provides information on the state of our planet as long as 4.4 billion years ago. 
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TLDR
The discovery of a detrital zircon with an age as old as 4,404 ± 8 Myr is reported, about 130 million years older than any previously identified on Earth and represents the earliest evidence for continental crust and oceans on the Earth.
Oxygen-isotope evidence from ancient zircons for liquid water at the Earth's surface 4,300 Myr ago
TLDR
In situ U–Pb and oxygen isotope results for detrital zircons found within 3-Gyr-old quartzitic rocks in the Murchison District of Western Australia are consistent with the presence of a hydrosphere interacting with the crust by 4,300 Myr ago and are postulated to form from magmas containing a significant component of re-worked continental crust.
Nature of the Earth's earliest crust from hafnium isotopes in single detrital zircons
Continental crust forms from, and thus chemically depletes, the Earth's mantle. Evidence that the Earth's mantle was already chemically depleted by melting before the formation of today's oldest
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Xenon from the chondritic meteorite Richardton was found to be heavily enriched in Xe/sup 129/. This isotope almost centainly was formed from the decay of I/sup 129/, extinct at present as a natural
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Based on the homogeneous accretion model of planets, thermal evolution of the growing earth has been studied. After the surface of the growing earth starts melting owing to the blanketing effect of
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We report here the existence of detrital zircons from Western Australia which are far older than any known terrestrial rocks. They are from quartzites at Mt Narryer (Fig. 1), a locality which has
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The age of the Earth's oldest crustal minerals sets a time-limit on the earliest preservation of buoyant solid crust. The oldest mineral ages reported so far are ∼4,180 Myr for detrital zircons from
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