Planet Earth Coloring Sheet
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As the molten outer layer of Earth cooled it formed the first solid crust, which is thought to have been mafic in composition. The first continental crust, which was more felsic in composition, formed by the partial melting of this mafic crust. The presence of grains of the mineral zircon of Hadean age in Eoarchean sedimentary rocks suggests that at least some felsic crust existed as early as 4. 4 Ga, only 140 Ma after Earth's formation.  There are two main models of how this initial small volume of continental crust evolved to reach its current abundance: (1) a relatively steady growth up to the present day, which is supported by the radiometric dating of continental crust globally and (2) an initial rapid growth in the volume of continental crust during the Archean, forming the bulk of the continental crust that now exists, which is supported by isotopic evidence from hafnium in zircons and neodymium in sedimentary rocks. The two models and the data that support them can be reconciled by large-scale recycling of the continental crust, particularly during the early stages of Earth's history.