Researchers believe Australia was part of North America 1.7B years ago



The team looked at detrital zircons - small rocks containing minerals and other material worn or broken away from a land mass by water or glacial ice. Surprisingly, the rocks are similar to those that form the so-called Canadian Shield which is a part of the continental crust that is visible in Canada.

Curtin University researchers found the rocks in Georgetown, Queensland, Australia that "bear striking similarities to those found in North America".

Researchers have discovered rocks in Northern Australia that has led them to believe the portion of the country was part of North America around 1.7 billion years ago. About 100 million years later, Georgetown joined the North Australia landmass. Then, 100 million years later, this landmass collided with what is now northern Australia, at the Mount Isa region.

A new study has revealed that a part of Australia was connected to North America many many years ago.

Perhaps this sort of news sounds peculiar, but for geologists, this is anything but.

The study revealed that the Georgetown region got separated from North America around 1.7 billion years ago. The discovery not only suggests that the two landmasses existed as one but also bolsters evidence of an ancient supercontinent that is believed to have formed some 1.7bn years ago.

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'This was a critical part of global continental reorganisation when nearly all continents on Earth assembled to form the supercontinent called Nuna'. Back then, C.W. Jefferson at the Geological Association of Canada emitted the theory that Australian and North American continents were once part of the same supercontinent, called Rodinia. Geologists are still trying to reconstruct how even earlier supercontinents assembled and broke apart before Pangaea.

Afterwards, Pannotia divided into several continents among which the most important were Laurentia from which North America will be formed, Baltica from which North Europe will be formed, and Siberia.

Colliding landmasses can form mountain ranges.

The latest study was carried out by a group of researchers at Curtin University in Australian. The collision of India and Asia, for example, formed the Himalayas.

They found that when the supercontinent Nuna broke apart the rock on which Georgetown sits did not drift away and instead became a new piece 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,"Zheng-Xiang Li, a co-author of the study and a professor of Earth science at Curtin University, said in the statement".

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