Ancient sediments from Greenland main content.

Ancient sediments from Greenland

Part of Hall of Planet Earth.

Greenland Isua sequence HERO

Exhibition Text

The oldest-known sedimentary rocks on the Earth comprise the 3.8-billion-year-old Isua Sequence of southwestern Greenland.  The rocks were once sediments formed by chemical precipitation from ocean water.  Intermittent eruptions from nearby volcanoes added other sediment layers.  The Isua rocks tell geologists important things about the early Earth: (1) there already was an ocean in which the sedimentary laters were laid down; (2) volcanoes already existed; and (3) erosion of the rocks was promoted by an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide and water vapor.  The rocks also contain geochemical evidence of the earliest life.

For Educators

Topic: Earth Science

Subtopic: Earth Formation/Evolution

Keywords: Geology, Greenland, Earth (Planet)--History, Life--Origin, Sedimentary rocks, Geochemistry

Audience: General