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Sahara space rock

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: TH


Context: In May 2020, scientists discovered unusual rocks containing distinctive greenish crystals in the Sahara Desert, which were identified as remnants from the early Solar System.

  • These rocks are pieces of the meteorite known as Erg Chech 002, making it the oldest volcanic rock ever found, dating back approximately 4.56556 billion years.


Erg Chech 002 is categorized as an “ungrouped achondrite,” formed from melted planetesimals, and its parent body remains unidentified.

The study revealed that Erg Chech 002 contained a high abundance of lead-206 and lead-207, along with undecayed uranium-238 and uranium-235. Comparisons with other achondrites, particularly volcanic angrites, indicated that aluminum-26 was distributed unevenly in the early Solar System.


Key Findings:

  • The study focused on aluminium isotopes, particularly aluminum-26, a radioactive isotope that decays over time and is crucial for understanding the formation of the Solar System.
  • Aluminum-26’s decay played a significant role in heating small rocks in the early Solar System, leading to the formation of planets.
  • To determine the distribution of aluminum-26 and its absolute ages, the researchers combined aluminum-26 data with uranium and lead data.

This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the early developmental stages of the Solar System and the geological history of emerging planets.