Australia and U.S. Once Belonged to Supercontinent Nuna - Study

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By Reissa Su | July 24, 2014 12:03 PM EST

Australia and the United States may have been connected long ago. A new study from the University of Tasmania researchers analysed old sedimentary rocks on the island and those from the American states of Idaho, Montana and some parts of British Columbia.

The researchers found zircon and monazite minerals in both rock samples. They also found a similar pattern in sedimentary rocks from Australia and the U.S.

According to scientists, the minerals may have been deposited in an ancient ocean about 1.45 billion to 1.22 billion years ago. Reports said the rocks examined by researchers are known to be the oldest samples in Tasmania.

Jacqueline Halpin, the lead researcher from the University of Tasmania's Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, said the results of the study served as "a strong genetic fingerprint and evidence" that the Rocky Cape in Tasmania was once connected with some parts of the U.S. and Canada known as the Belt-Purcell region.

Halpin said Tasmania and North America were to be part of Nuna which is a supercontinent that existed 1.3 billion years ago. Scientists believe the Nuna supercontinent broke into pieces of land and separated by tectonic plate movements. A "large sedimentary basin" had formed with the rocks from the Rocky Cape Group and the Belt-Purcell Supergroup.

The continuous breakup and drifting had led Nuna's parts to opposite sides of the Earth.

The study was published in the Precambrian Research journal. Aside from this conclusion, Dr Peter McGoldrick, who is a colleague of Halpin, said another discovery was made because of the sedimentary rocks. New mineral dates were recorded for the fossils of horodyskia which is a multi-cellular organism found in the Rocky Cape Group. According to reports, the fossils have also been discovered in the rocks found in the Belt-Purcell Group.

The researcher said the discovery is significant because the organism could be one of the oldest in the world. 

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