The oldest mountains on earth

Oldest Mountain range

Most scientists agree that the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa is the oldest mountain range on Earth (3.6 billion years old), and it is said that it is possible to deduce the entire geological history of the Earth by examining these uprising mountains in this ancient sea floor area.

The Makhonjwa Mountains also known as the Barberton Greenstone Belt or Barberton Mountain Land is a range of small mountains and hills that cover an 120 km by 60 km area that straddles the Mpumalanga province of South Africa and the border of Swaziland. It is situated in the eastern edge of Kaapvaal Craton. The area ranges in altitude from 600 to 1, 800 meters above mean sea level. The range is best known for having some of the oldest exposed rocks on Earth estimated to be between 3.2 and 3.6 billion years (Ga) old, dating from the Paleoarchean.

The mountain range's extreme age and exceptional preservation have yielded some of the oldest undisputed signs of life on Earth and provide insight into the hostile nature of the Precambrian environment under which this life evolved. This has led to the area being otherwise known as the “Genesis of life”.

The area is also known for its gold deposits and a number of komatiites, an unusual type of ultramafic volcanic rock named after the Komati River that flows through the belt. It has a number of rocky hills, with moist grassy uplands and forested valleys.

The oldest gold ever found, as well as possibly the oldest fossils have been found in these mountains which geologists say has the greatest cross section of the Earth's geology available on the whole planet!

In April 2014, scientists reported finding evidence of the largest terrestrial meteor impact event to date near the area. They estimated the impact occurred about 3.26 billion years ago and that the impactor was approximately 37 and 58 kilometers (23 to 36 miles) wide. The crater from this event, if it still exists, has not yet been found.

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