Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small Fossil Remembers When Continents Collided

13.03.2003


When were the mountains of Wales pushed up?

It was well before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. And it happened in the aftermath of a gigantic continental collision, when England and Wales (then attached to southern Newfoundland) crashed into Scotland (then attached to north America). The muds of the sea floor were converted, then, into the hard grey slates of the Welsh hills.

Until now it has been very hard to tell exactly when these slates were formed, because the minerals that make up the slates have been just too tiny for scientists to be able to separate out and measure their age.



New research by paleontologist Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester Geology Department, and colleagues from the Open University and the British Geological Survey is now able to shed light on this geological mystery - thanks to some small fossils.

Fossil graptolites - mysterious, extinct planktonic creatures - have been found preserved in the slates, their remains beautifully mineralized in shiny yellow iron pyrites (fool’s gold).

When the muds were crushed into slates, they were deformed around the hard pyritized graptolites. Little spaces opened between the fossils and the rock as this happened, and these spaces were filled with pure new slate-forming minerals.

These minerals were large enough and pure enough for Sarah Sherlock of the Open University to extract and to date, exploiting their natural radioactivity as a kind of natural clock.

The results show that the slates formed 396 million years ago (plus or minus 1.4 million years). This is by far the most precise date extracted from the slates of the Welsh hills, or indeed from slates anywhere in the world.

This pioneering method can now be applied to measure the ages of mountain belts everywhere, since fossils preserved in fool’s gold can be found all around the world.

Ather Mirza | University of Leicester
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk/press/ebulletin/
http://www.le.ac.uk/press/experts/

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: 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,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

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

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>