Canadians have always seen themselves as separate and distinct from their American neighbours to the south, and now they have geological proof.
New research published in April's edition of Geology shows that rock formations roughly along the same political boundary as the two North American countries formed as early as 120 million years ago.
Dr. Andrew Leier, of the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, set out to prove what he thought was the obvious: because the mountains are continuous between the U.S. and Canada, the ancient river systems that flowed from these uplands were likely interconnected. In other words, during Cretaceous Period,120 million years ago, rivers should have flowed north and south between the countries, paying no mind to the modern day political border.
"I thought that I could easily show that in my research," says Leier who published a paper in Geology with co-author Dr. George Gehrels at the University of Arizona and, Leier adds, a lot of help from Cassandra Frosini, an undergraduate in geoscience at the University of Calgary.
But Leier was wrong. "I was surprised to learn the opposite, in fact, was true," he says.
A tiny piece of sediment found in sandstone called zircon helped the researchers locate where the sediments had originally formed. Knowing its current location, Leier was able to determine just how far the rivers moved it and the direction from which it came.
During the Cretaceous Period, mountains were being created all along western North America, in both Canada and the United States.
"I thought the sediment transported by ancient rivers in Montana and Utah would flow out of the mountain ranges and then north into Alberta. This is similar with how the Ganges River runs parallel to the Himalayas. Our research shows this wasn't the case," says Leier.
Leier and Gehrels used recently developed laser-based techniques to reconstruct the origin of individual sand grains that were deposited during this period in western North America. This technique has applications to the petroleum industry as well, where it can be used to aide in determining drilling locations.
Researchers found slightly different rocks, when eroded, produced slightly different zircons.
"Cretaceous sediment in the United States have a clear American signature; whereas those in the Canadian Rockies have a different and definable Canadian signature," says Leier.
"The demarcation is pretty much coincidental with the modern day border."
Also the implication of the data suggests that the rivers that flowed west to east from the mountains in the United States stayed in the United States, and those in Canada stayed in Canada.
"In other words, there is no evidence that rivers in western North America were crossing what is today the border," says Leier.
The paper, Continental-scale detrital zircon provenance signatures in Lower Cretaceous strata, western North America, published in Geology is by Andrew Leier, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary and George Gehrels, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona.
Leanne Yohemas | EurekAlert!
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy