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        Treasures of the Earth | When Did Plate Tectonics Begin?

        Learn how diamonds can help scientists understand when the process of plate tectonics began on Earth, in this video from NOVA: Treasures of Earth: Gems. Diamonds with inclusions–trapped impurities–are like time capsules that have preserved those minerals. Analyzing the age and inclusions of a diamond, scientists discovered minerals that could only have been formed at Earth’s surface. However, because diamonds form deep within Earth, somehow the surface minerals had to be transported below the surface. The minerals found in diamond inclusions indicate that plate tectonics may have started about 3.2 billion years ago.

        To view the Background Essay and Teaching Tips for this video, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.

        Visit the program page.

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