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Jack Hills (Eranondoo Hill), Nookawarra Station, Murchison Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 26° 10' 54'' South , 116° 56' 49'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -26.18193,116.94715
GeoHash:G#: qe75j1wr4
Locality type:Group of Hills
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

The Mindat co-ordinates mark Eranondoo Hill near where the zircons were found. The exact spot of the zircon discovery is very specific, and it is not possible with the level of accuracy needed to mark on Mindat. Google Maps spells the hill as Erawondoo.

Located approximately 200 kilometres west north-west of Meekatharra. Jack Hills is 80 kilometres long, north-east trending belt of folded and metamorphised supracrustal rock. The hills are composed of sedimentary siliciclastic rocks, with minor mafic/ultramafic rocks, and banded iron formations.

Some of the zircon crystals in these rocks (which are over 3 billion years old) are even older, ~4.4 billion years, and therefore stem from similarly old rocks. These zircons represent the oldest known mineral on Earth at only 150 million years after the formation of the planet. The presence of zircon crystals within these rocks appears to contradict the notion that the first 500 million years of Earth's history- the Hadean Eon - was a continuously violent and chaotic time, where volcanism and meteorite impact meant a global magma ocean on the planet surface. The chemical make-up of the Jack Hills crystals suggests they were formed in the presence of liquid water, and provide evidence the Earth was cooler and wetter than we used to think. This in turn could mean life evolved far earlier than we know at present.

The crystals were discovered in the early 1980s, but their significance was not immediately apparent. They had been weathered out of rocks, and found in river sediment. The rock host is over 3 billion years old. Later the zircons were dated at 4.1 billion years, which while old, compared to rocks found elsewhere of the same age. Eventually new techniques, proved some of the zircons from Eranondoo Hill to be 4.4 billion years old, the oldest material found on Earth (Wilde et al., 2001).

(Allegedly four billion year old micro diamond inclusions in the Jack Hill zircon rock have also been discovered through work by Perth's Curtin University geology department, and the University of Munster mineralogy department in Germany. They were thought to be the oldest known diamonds, but are actually remnants of polishing powder that infiltrated minute fissures in the zircon crystals.)

In 2001, analysis of the relative amounts of different isotopes of oxygen indicated the ratio was skewed heavily towards oxygen 18, as opposed to the more common light oxygen 16. This indicates the rocks formed in a cool, wet, sedimentary process on the Earth's surface. The magma which gave rise to the zircons may have formed on an ocean floor, and cooled quickly. It also highlights the magma was from recycled rock that had interacted with the surface water and not from a mantle source. The presence of quartz inclusions, as well as results from neodymium and hafnium isotopic studies support a felsic source suggesting continental crust may have been forming very early in Earth's history, along with tectonic processes like subduction.

Inclusions in these zircons are not magmatic, but formed during metamorphism at either 2.68 Ga or 0.8 Ga (Rasmussen et al. 2011).

The C isotopic composition of primary graphite inclusions in a >3.8-Ga zircon was inferred to be consistent with a biogenic origin and may be evidence that a terrestrial biosphere had emerged by 4.1 Ga, or ∼300 My earlier than has been previously proposed (Bell et al. 2015).

Zircons are extremely durable. They are single grained size and not visible to the naked eye in the rocks. Zircons from Jack Hills are on display at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, as part of a permanent exhibit "Evolution of Minerals."

Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities

12 valid minerals. 1 erroneous literature entry.

Rock Types Recorded

Note: this is a very new system on mindat.org and data is currently VERY limited. Please bear with us while we work towards adding this information!

Rock list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities

Select Rock List Type

Alphabetical List Tree Diagram


Mineralization age: Precambrian : 4348 ± 3 Ma to 744 ± 25 Ma

Important note: This table is based only on rock and mineral ages recorded below and is not necessarily a complete representation of the geochronology, but does give an indication of possible mineralization events relevant to this locality. As more age information is added this table may expand in the future. A break in the table simply indicates a lack of data entered here, not necessarily a break in the geologic sequence. Grey background entries are from different, related, localities.

Geologic TimeRocks, Minerals and Events
ⓘ Xenotime (youngest age)744 ± 25 Ma
ⓘ Metaconglomerate (youngest age)800 ± 25 Ma
ⓘ Monazite (youngest age)835 ± 9 Ma
ⓘ Zircon (youngest age)1576 ± 22 Ma
ⓘ Metaconglomerate (oldest age)~2650 Ma
ⓘ Greenschist-amphibolite metamorphism and deformation.2653 ± 5 Ma
ⓘ Banded iron formation3080 ± 20 MaJack Hills mine, Jack Hills (Eranondoo Hill), Nookawarra Station, Murchison Shire, Western Australia, Australia
ⓘ Monazite (oldest age)3254 ± 72 Ma
ⓘ Xenotime (oldest age)3266 ± 3 Ma
  Basin Groups
ⓘ Zircon (oldest age)4348 ± 3 Ma

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

2500 - 4000 Ma

ID: 693097
felsic intrusives 74292

Age: Archean (2500 - 4000 Ma)

Description: Undifferentiated felsic intrusive rocks, including monzogranite, granodiorite, granite, tonalite, quartz monzonite, syenogranite, diorite, monzodiorite, pegmatite. Locally metamorphosed, foliated, gneissic. Local abundant mafic and ultramafic inclusions

Comments: igneous felsic intrusive; igneous intermediate intrusive; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Igneous felsic intrusive; igneous intermediate intrusive

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

Mesoarchean - Paleoarchean
2800 - 3600 Ma

ID: 3192079
Archean sedimentary rocks

Age: Archean (2800 - 3600 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Narryer Complex

Comments: Yilgarn Craton

Lithology: Granitoid gneiss; orthogneiss

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

Localities in this Region
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  • Western Australia
    • Murchison Shire

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on mindat.org. This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in mindat.org without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Amelin, Y.; Lee, D.-C.; Halliday, A. N. (2000): Early-middle Archean crustal evolution deduced from Lu-Hf and U-Pb isotopic studies of single zircon grains. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 64, 4205-4225.
Wilde, S.A., Valley, J.W., Peck, W.H., Graham, C.M. (2001): Evidence from detrital zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans on the Earth 4.4 Gyr ago. Nature 409, 175-178.
Hoskin, Paul W. O. (2005): Trace-element composition of hydrothermal zircon and the alteration of Hadean zircon from the Jack Hills, Australia. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 69, 637-648.
Harrison, T.M. (2009): The Hadean crust: evidence from >4 Ga zircons. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet Sci. 37: 479-505.
Kemp, A. I. S.; Wilde, S. A.; Hawkesworth, C. J.; Coath, C. D.; Nemchin, A.; Pidgeon, R. T.; Vervoort, J. D.; DuFrane, S. A. (2010): Hadean crustal evolution revisited: new constraints from Pb–Hf isotope systematics of the Jack Hills zircons. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 296, 45-56.
Rasmussen, B., Fletcher, I.R., Muhling, J.R., and Wilde, S.A.W. (2010) In situ U-Th-Pb geochronology of monazite and xenotime from the Jack Hills belt: Implications for the age of deposition and metamorphism of Hadean zircons. Precambrian Research, 180, 26–46. doi:10.1016/j.precamres.2010.03.004
Rasmussen, B., Fletcher, I. R., Muhling, J. R., Gregory, C. J., and Wilde, S. A. (2011): Metamorphic replacement of mineral inclusions in detrital zircon from Jack Hills, Australia: Implications for the Hadean Earth. Geology, 39, 1143-1146.
Elizabeth A. Bell, Patrick Boehnke, T. Mark Harrison, and Wendy L. Mao (2015): Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon. PNAS 112, 14518-14521.
Martina Menneken, Thorsten Geisler (2017) CO2 fluid inclusions in Jack Hills zircons. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 172, 66.

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