Using new computer modelling programs Wouter Schellart and the team reconstructed the prehistoric cataclysm that took place when a tectonic plate between Australia and New Zealand was subducted 1100 kilometres into the Earth's interior and at the same time formed a long chain of volcanic islands at the surface.
Mr Schellart conducted the research, published in the world-leading journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, in collaboration with Brian Kennett from ANU (Canberra) and Wim Spakman and Maisha Amaru from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
"Until now many geologists have only looked at New Caledonia and New Zealand separately and didn't see a connection, Mr Schellart said.
"In our new reconstruction, which looked at a much larger region including eastern Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and New Guinea, we saw a large number of similarities between New Caledonia and northern New Zealand in terms of geology, structure, volcanism and timing of geological events.
"We then searched deep within the Earth for proof of a connection and found the evidence 1100 km below the Tasman Sea in the form of a subducted tectonic plate.
"We combined reconstructions of the tectonic plates that cover the Earth's surface with seismic tomography, a technique that allows one to look deep into the Earth's interior using seismic waves that travel through the Earth's interior to map different regions.
"We are now able to say a tectonic plate about 70 km thick, some 2500 km long and 700 km wide was subducted into the Earth's interior.
"The discovery means there was a geographical connection between New Caledonia and New Zealand between 50 and 20 million years ago by a long chain of volcanic islands. This could be important for the migration of certain plant and animal species at that time," Mr Schellart said.
Mr Schellart said the new discovery diffuses the debate about whether the continents and micro-continents in the Southwest Pacific have been completely separated since 100 million years ago and helps to explain some of the mysteries surrounding evolution in the region.
"As geologists present more data, and computer modelling programs become more hi-tech, it is likely we will learn more about our Earth's history and the processes of evolution."
Samantha Blair | EurekAlert!
Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles
23.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed
21.03.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences