Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Small Fossil Remembers When Continents Collided


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:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>