HADEAN EON: The Formation of Earth 4.6 – 4.0 billion years ago

Hadean Eon Timeline

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2018

The Hadean Eon – 4.6 to 4.0 billion years ago

Geologic Timeline

The first eon of Earth is the Hadean Eon.

Because Earth was still forming, it was almost unrecognizable.

There are no fossil records in this eon because temperature was too high to sustain life.

Some of the key events in the Hadean Eon is its heat source, magnetic field and formation of a moon.

Earth coalesced from a cloud of dust into a planet

Core Accretion Model

The Big Bang created all matter in the universe. This includes the sun, planets and our solar system.

From a cloud of dust, gravity moulded our solar system. The terrestrial planets were positioned closer to the sun. After Mars, these are the gas outer planets.

The core accretion model describes the creation of our solar system. Solar wind swept in hydrogen and helium closer to the sun because they were smaller in size.

But heavier elements were not pulled into the sun. They spiraled and gelled together into planets of their own

Earth coalesced surrounding matter to form a sphere. The heaviest material like iron and zinc sank to the core. Finally, lighter material remained on top to form a crust.

Convection currents from Earth’s core generate a magnetic field

Magnetic Field

From the core accretion model, Earth formed a solid iron core. Surrounding the inner core, Earth established a liquid outer core.

Because the solid inner core heats the outer liquid layer, it produces convection currents. This geodynamo is Earth’s magnetic field.

In the Hadean Eon, Earth’s magnetic field was just developing. It just started deflecting solar winds making Earth more habitable.

Without it, Earth would be exposed to the sun’s deadly rays. And humans which didn’t exist at this wouldn’t have habitable conditions to evolve.

The Giant Impact Hypothesis describes the formation of the moon

Giant Impact Hypothesis

The giant impact hypothesis explains the formation of our moon. This happened sometime at the start of the Hadean Eon.

First, an object the size of Mars headed towards Earth. At tremendous speed, it delivered a glancing blow to Earth.

But Earth’s gravity was able to pull the moon into its orbit. And the moon has remained orbiting Earth ever since.

The formation of the moon had profound effects for Earth’s climate. Not only did the moon slow down Earth’s rotation, but the impact tilted Earth on its axis.

This is when the Earth started to have seasons. Because the moon stabilizes the Earth from wobbling, Earth also developed a more balanced climate.

Asteroids and comets pelted Earth in the Late Bombardment Stage

Red Earth

At the end of the Hadean Eon, the Earth was in the late bombardment stage. Asteroids and comets pelted Earth.

We know it wasn’t only Earth because we can see these impacts all around our solar system.

In the Hadean Eon, heat flow was nearly 3 times as high as it is today. Because of the intense heat, water would have evaporated into space.

This is why scientists suggest that comets may have transported water during the late bombardment stage.

And what was the spark that built the chemical building blocks for life?

Scientists are trying to recreate the collisions that took place at this time. They are try to reconstruct the first chains of DNA.

Conclusion

In the Hadean Eon, we obtain a heat source, magnetic field and formation of a moon.

There are no fossil records because temperature is too high to sustain life. The exception is there may be Hadean rocks in parts of Canada and Western Australia.

Almost unrecognizable, heat flow is nearly 3 times as high as it is today from planetary accretion.

How do we move towards habitability? The Archaean Eon brings an oxygenated atmosphere from anaerobic organisms known as cyanobacteria.

Hadean Eon Timeline

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