John Goodge and a colleague collecting rock specimens in the Transantarctic Mountains.
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Credit: John Goodge / University of Minnesota-Duluth
Newly-Found Rock May Prove Antarctica and North America Were Connected
News story originally written on July 17, 2008
Newly Found Rock May Prove Antarctica and North America Were Connected
There are lots of rocks in Antarctica. But the one that scientists just found is very special. It shows that Antarctica and North America may have been connected hundreds of millions of years ago.
The rock, made of granite, was found on a glacier in Antarctica by a team of scientists. To figure out what the rock was made of, the scientists tested its chemistry. They found that it is made of the same chemicals as igneous rocks in the southwestern United States. Those rocks used to be part of a supercontinent called Rodinia 600 to 800 million years ago. This supports the hypothesis that part of the Rodinia broke away from the southwestern United States and drifted south to become eastern Antarctica and Australia.
Figuring out where continents where hundreds of millions of years ago is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The pieces are the continents we have today, but they have been moved from where they used to be because of plate tectonics. By finding rocks on different continents that are made of the same minerals and chemicals, scientists can piece together where the continents used to be located and how were connected.
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