Tags: north america | australia | drifted apart

North America, Australia Once Married, but Drifted Apart

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By    |   Wednesday, 24 January 2018 11:09 AM

North America and Australia were once attached before breaking away 1.7 billion years ago, suggests a new study by researchers who found similar sandstone sedimentary rocks on both continents.

The study, headed by lead author Adam Nordsyan of Australia's Curtin University, said the team from rocks in Georgetown, Queensland, Australia that were common to eastern Canada, USA Today reported.

The Curtin study was published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Geology.

Scientists connected with the study believe that one region of modern-day Australia was once attached to North America, but broke away and landed where Australia now it after drifting for some 100 million years.

That piece helped form the "supercontinent" Nuna before it then broke away to form Australia.

"Our research shows that about 1.7 billion years ago, Georgetown rocks were deposited into a shallow sea when the region was part of North America," Nordsyan said. "Georgetown then broke away from North America and collided with the Mount Isa region of northern Australia around 100 million years later.”

"This was a critical part of global continental reorganization when almost all continents on Earth assembled to form the supercontinent called Nuna. The team was able to determine this by using both new sedimentological field data and new and existing geochronological data from both Georgetown and Mount Isa to reveal this unexpected information on the Australia continent."

Zheng-Xiang Li, from Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said new evidence suggested that mountains were formed in both the Georgetown region and Mount Isa when the Georgetown area collided with the rest of Australia.

"Ongoing research by our team shows that this mountain belt, in contrast to the Himalayas, would not have been very high, suggesting the final continental assembling process that led to the formation of the supercontinent Nuna was not a hard collision like India’s recent collision with Asia."

"This new finding is a key step in understanding how Earth's first supercontinent Nuna may have formed, a subject still being pursued by our multidisciplinary team here at Curtin University."

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North America and Australia were once attached before breaking away 1.7 billion years ago, suggests a new study by researchers who found similar sandstone sedimentary rocks on both continents.
north america, australia, drifted apart
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2018-09-24
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 11:09 AM
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