National Heritage List inscription date 30 June 2020
Erawondoo Hill is the discovery site and largest in situ repository of the oldest terrestrial material known to exist on Earth.
It is situated in the Jack Hills in the Murchison District of Western Australia. Zircon crystals here date back 4.4 billion years, making it the most abundant in situ repository of crystals on Earth.
It is one of the world’s most important sites for ongoing research into the origins of the Earth.
The oldest zircon crystals at Erawondoo Hill have been dated to 4404(±8) million years, only 120 million years younger than the age of the Earth itself. There is nowhere else in Australia or the world where zircon crystals in excess of 4 billion years old occur in such quantities, making it a globally unique site of international significance.
Extensive analysis of zircon crystals from Erawondoo Hill and the surrounding sedimentary rock sequences has challenged scientific knowledge of the nature and processes of the earliest phases of Earth’s history. Ground-breaking research by Australian and international scientists is ongoing.
Insights into Earth’s earliest history
The zircon crystals were discovered in the early 1980s. Since then, the site is regularly visited by Australian and international geologists and is at the cutting edge of scientific research in relation to early Earth processes.
Extensive analysis of thousands of zircon crystals from Erawondoo Hill and the surrounding sedimentary rock sequences has produced a substantial body of work which has revolutionised scientific thinking on the nature and processes of the earliest phases of Earth’s history.
The ‘Cool Early Earth’ theory is based substantially on discoveries derived from the Erawondoo Hill zircons. The theory suggests that cooler temperatures, continental crust and liquid water developed much earlier than previously thought. With ongoing research opportunities and advances in scientific technologies, the site provides potential for future discoveries.
The National Heritage List
The National Heritage List recognises and protects our most valued natural, Indigenous and historic heritage sites. Places listed in the National Heritage List are protected under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.