Stonehenge rocks are nearly 2 billion years old: study

It’s a rock of the ages.

An extended-lost piece of Stonehenge has revealed the prehistoric monument is nearly 2 billion years outdated — giving new perception into its super-durable make-up, in accordance with a brand new study.

Robert Phillips, a employee restoring the monument in England in 1958, took house a rock fragment that was lately unearthed and studied by researchers on the University of Brighton in England.

The proven fact that the monument’s minerals shaped 1.6 million years in the past — again when dinosaurs roamed the Earth — explains why it has lasted so lengthy, University of Brighton geomorphologist David Nash, who led the study, instructed Reuters.

“This explains the stone’s resistance to weathering and why it made an ideal material for monument-building,” Nash mentioned.

Stonehenge rocks are nearly 2 billion years outdated, in accordance with a brand new study.
REUTERS//Toby Melville

The study confirmed that the silcrete compound of the rock is basically composed of grains cemented tightly collectively by interlocking crystals of quartz, which is extraordinarily sturdy and doesn’t simply crumble or erode even when uncovered to the weather.

The megaliths are manufactured from stone known as silcrete, which shaped steadily inside just a few yards of the floor because of groundwater washing by way of the underground sediment.

Researchers studied a core pattern of the rock, known as Stone 58, which was stored within the US for many years earlier than being returned to Britain for analysis in 2018. The sarsens had been erected on the website on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire by late Neolithic individuals round 2500 BC.

On Wednesday, researchers described the excellent study, which offered a glimpse inside certainly one of Stonehenge’s 52 sandstone megaliths, often called sarsens, gaining perception into its geology and chemistry, in accordance with Reuters.

The sun rises as revellers welcome in the winter solstice at Stonehenge stone circle in Amesbury, southwest Britain, December 22, 2018.
Researchers studied a core pattern of the rock known as Stone 58.
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Stone 58, stands about 23 toes tall, with one other 7 toes underground, and an estimated above-ground weight of 24 tons.

The core pattern — about an inch in diameter and roughly a yard lengthy – is brighter than the pale-gray exterior of the megaliths.

It was given as a memento to Robert Phillips, who labored for a corporation concerned within the conservation work. He took it with him with permission when he emigrated to the US in 1977. In 2018, he determined to return it to the UK for analysis. He died in 2020.

“Getting access to the core drilled from Stone 58 was very much the Holy Grail for our research,” Nash instructed Reuters. “All the previous work on sarsens at Stonehenge involved samples either excavated from the site or knocked off from random stones.”

Stonehenge ancient stone circle is seen at dawn, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain.
Stonehenge’s minerals shaped 1.6M years in the past — again when dinosaurs roamed the Earth — which is why it’s endured so lengthy, the study discovered.
REUTERS/Toby Melville

The scientists used CT-scans, X-rays, microscopic analyses and different strategies to study fragments of the core pattern.

“This small sample is now probably the most analyzed piece of stone other than moon rock,” Nash mentioned.

“The sandy sediments within which the stone developed were deposited during the Paleogene period, 66 [million] to 23 million years ago, so the sarsens can be no older than this,” Nash told Live Science.

But when the researchers in contrast ratios of neodymium isotopes — or atoms of the aspect with a unique variety of neutrons within the nucleus — within the samples, they discovered that some sediments had been much more historical, in accordance with the outlet.

Some grains had been possible eroded from rocks relationship to the Mesozoic period, when they could have been pounded on by dinosaurs, in accordance with Nash, who mentioned that a number of the grains shaped as way back as 1 billion to 1.6 billion years in the past through the Mesoproterozoic Era.

The findings had been revealed within the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

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