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 Atmospheric scientists reveal the effect of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming
11.03.2019 | Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

nachricht Sensing shakes
11.03.2019 | University of Tokyo

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Levitating objects with light

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique for in-cell distance determination

19.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Stellar cartography

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>