Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ancient rocks of Tetons formed by continental collisions

01.02.2016

University of Wyoming scientists have found evidence of continental collisions in Wyoming's Teton Range, similar to those in the Himalayas, dating to as early as 2.68 billion years ago.

The research, published Jan. 22 in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, shows that plate tectonics were operating in what is now western Wyoming long before the collisions that created the Himalayas starting 40 million years ago.


Rolling Thunder Mountain near Talus Lake is part of the Teton Range. The orange rock in the foreground is Webb Canyon gneiss, granite formed by decompression melting more than 2.6 billion years ago.

Credit: Carol Frost

In fact, the remnants of tectonic activity in old rocks exposed in the Tetons point to the world's earliest known continent-continent collision, says Professor Carol Frost of UW's Department of Geology and Geophysics, lead author of the paper.

"While the Himalayas are the prime example of continent-continent collisions that take place due to plate tectonic motion today, our work suggests plate tectonics operated far, far back into the geologic past," Frost says.

The paper's co-authors include fellow UW Department of Geology and Geophysics faculty members Susan Swapp and Ron Frost.

The researchers reached their conclusions by analyzing ancient, exposed granite in the northern Teton Range and comparing it to similar rock in the Himalayas.

The rocks were formed from magma produced by what is known as decompression melting, a process that commonly occurs when two continental tectonic plates collide. The dramatically thickened crust extends under gravitational forces, and melting results when deeper crust rises closer to the surface.

While the Tetons are a relatively young mountain range, formed by an uplift along the Teton Fault less than 9 million years ago, the rocks exposed there are some of the oldest found in North America.

The UW scientists found that the mechanisms that formed the granites of the Tetons and the Himalayas are comparable, but that there are significant differences between the rocks of the two regions.

That is due to differences in the composition of the continental crust in Wyoming 2.68 billion years ago compared to crustal plates observed today. Specifically, the ancient crust that melted in the Tetons contained less potassium than the more recently melted crust found in the Himalayas.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Media Contact

Carol Frost
frost@uwyo.edu
307-766-6254

http://www.uwyo.edu 

Carol Frost | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>