Did it ever occur to you, while going swimming in the sea, that the sand that you trample with your feet is nothing but a record that carries with it the history of the earth?

This is revealed by the new research, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

new scale

Scientists reached their results when they developed a new scale to determine what they call the "age distribution footprint" of the mineral zircon in the sand, which can then be used to reveal more about the evolution of the Earth's surface over billions of years, according to a report published on the "Science Alert" website. On the third of March this year.

Zircon is a mineral that geologists are looking for, because it can form when continents collide with each other.

As it forms sediment, it stores information with it.

Zircon is a mineral sought by geologists, and it forms when continents collide (Getty Images)

As layers of the crust rub down, forcing new rocks to fossilize, a time stamp for the rock's age is preserved in its composition, and even when the rock breaks down into small grains, traces of that date can be collected.

The history of the earth is recorded in the sand

“The beaches of the world record well a detailed history of the geological past of our planet, with billions of years of Earth history stored in the geology of every grain of sand, and our technology help reveal this information.

By knowing the age distribution of zircon in a sample of sand - from newborns to old people, geologically - the new technique allows scientists to know the mountain-forming events that were occurring in the times before the collection of this amount of sediments.

A time stamp of the age of the rocks is preserved in their composition (Getty Images)

This approach is even able to shed light on how Earth's biosphere evolved for the first time, according to the researchers, by looking back to times that none of the other geological methods of analysis had previously made it possible to study.

Understanding tectonic movements

Another advantage this new research technique has over existing methods is that it can be used to understand tectonic movements even when the age of sedimentation itself is not known (a scenario in which researchers often find themselves).

The team has put their new method to the test with 3 studies that highlight how the age distribution footprint works, studying sediments in South America, East Antarctica and Western Australia.

The new research technique has advantages over existing methods and can be used to understand tectonic movements (Pixabe).

“For example, the sediments on the western and eastern coasts of South America are quite different because there are many small grains on the western side that formed from the sinking of the crust under the continent, which led to earthquakes and volcanoes in the Andes,” says chronologist Chris Kirkland of Curtin University.

"While on the east coast everything is relatively calm geologically and there is a mixture of ancient and young grains that have been picked up from a variety of rocks across the Amazon basin," Kirkland adds.

The new analysis matches previous research on the sites. The researchers say that even individual grains of sand can reveal the tectonic forces that created them, based on the age distribution of the sediments around them.

The new technique can be used to reanalyze data from older studies (Getty Images)

Re-understanding Earth's history

The researchers suggest that the new technique could be used to re-analyze data from older studies, as well as to derive more details from suitable sediments in future research.

"This new approach allows for a greater understanding of the nature of paleogeology in order to reconstruct the arrangement and movement of tectonic plates on Earth through time," says Parham.