Ancient crystals hold clues about why Earth’s crust shattered like a crème brûlée 3.8 billion years ago

Tiny crystals unearthed in South Africa contain evidence of a sudden transition on the planet’s surface 3.8 billion years ago.

These crystals, each not bigger than a grain of sand, show that around that time, Earth‘s crust broke up and began moving — a precursor to the process known as plate tectonics.

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