Dr Antony Burnham from the Australian National University looking at a sample
Scientists came to the conclusion after analysing tiny zircon mineral grains from a region of Western Australia containing the oldest rocks ever found.
Lead researcher Dr Antony Burnham, from The Australian National University, said: "The history of the Earth is like a book with its first chapter ripped out with no surviving rocks from the very early period, but we've used these trace elements of zircon to build a profile of the world at that time.
"Our research indicates there were no mountains and continental collisions during Earth's first 700 million years or more of existence – it was a much more quiet and dull place.
Zircon mineral grains from Western Australia were analysed
Our findings also showed that there are strong similarities with zircon from the types of rocks that predominated for the following 1.5 billion years
Dr Antony Burnham – Lead researcher
"Our findings also showed that there are strong similarities with zircon from the types of rocks that predominated for the following 1.5 billion years, suggesting that it took the Earth a long time to evolve into the planet that we know today."
The team, whose findings are reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, conducted a forensic study of the grains looking for clues to their formation.
They found that the zircon was created by melting old igneous rocks rather than sediments.
They found that zircon was created by melting down old igneous rocks
Dr Burnham said: "Sediment melting is characteristic of major continental collisions, such as the Himalayas, so it appears that such events did not occur during these early stages of Earth's history."
The zircon grains, preserved in sandstone rocks in the Jack Hills, date back to when the Earth was only 160 million years old.
The new research fits in with the "Cool Early Earth" theory that suggests a cool, quiet period followed the extreme conditions of Earth's earliest history.
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Zircon grains date back to when the Earth was only 160 million years old
It pre-dated the Late Heavy Bombardment 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago when the Earth was pummelled by comets and asteroids.
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