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.
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.
Carol Frost | EurekAlert!
Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah
New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine