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Published on Jul 20, 2011
Scientists have long debated about the origin of carbon in Earth's oldest sedimentary rocks and how it might signal the remnants of the earliest forms of life on the planet. New research by a team including five scientists from Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory and Department of Terrestrial Magnetism discovered that carbon samples taken from ancient Canadian rock formations are younger than the sedimentary rocks surrounding them, which were formed at least 3.8 billion years ago. Their results indicate that the carbon contained in such ancient rocks should not be assumed to be as old as the rocks, unless it can be shown to have had the same metamorphic history as the host rock