Ancient crystals hold clues as to why the earth’s crust shattered like a crème brûlée 3.8 billion years ago

A red gold colored zircon crystal. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Tiny crystals found in South Africa contain evidence of a sudden transition to the planet’s surface 3.8 billion years ago.

These crystals, each no larger than a grain of sand, show that the Earth’s crust broke and began to move around that time, a precursor to the process known as plate tectonics.

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