Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Even Canadian rocks are different: Sedimentary differences on either side of border date back 120 million years

Date:
March 29, 2011
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
Canadians have always seen themselves as separate and distinct from their American neighbors to the south, and now they have geological proof. New research shows that rock formations roughly along the same political boundary as the two North American countries formed as early as 120 million years ago.

Andrew Leier examined zircons from Lower Cretaceous sandstone near the Sulphur river in the Grande Cache, Alberta area. The prominent sandstone cliff is the Cretaceous sandstone.
Credit: University of Calgary

Canadians have always seen themselves as separate and distinct from their American neighbours to the south, and now they have geological proof.

Related Articles


New research published in April's edition of Geology shows that rock formations roughly along the same political boundary as the two North American countries formed as early as 120 million years ago.

Dr. Andrew Leier, of the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, set out to prove what he thought was the obvious: because the mountains are continuous between the U.S. and Canada, the ancient river systems that flowed from these uplands were likely interconnected. In other words, during Cretaceous Period,120 million years ago, rivers should have flowed north and south between the countries, paying no mind to the modern day political border.

"I thought that I could easily show that in my research," says Leier who published a paper in Geology with co-author Dr. George Gehrels at the University of Arizona and, Leier adds, a lot of help from Cassandra Frosini, an undergraduate in geoscience at the University of Calgary.

But Leier was wrong. "I was surprised to learn the opposite, in fact, was true," he says.

A tiny piece of sediment found in sandstone called zircon helped the researchers locate where the sediments had originally formed. Knowing its current location, Leier was able to determine just how far the rivers moved it and the direction from which it came.

During the Cretaceous Period, mountains were being created all along western North America, in both Canada and the United States.

"I thought the sediment transported by ancient rivers in Montana and Utah would flow out of the mountain ranges and then north into Alberta. This is similar with how the Ganges River runs parallel to the Himalayas. Our research shows this wasn't the case," says Leier.

Leier and Gehrels used recently developed laser-based techniques to reconstruct the origin of individual sand grains that were deposited during this period in western North America. This technique has applications to the petroleum industry as well, where it can be used to aide in determining drilling locations.

Researchers found slightly different rocks, when eroded, produced slightly different zircons.

"Cretaceous sediment in the United States have a clear American signature; whereas those in the Canadian Rockies have a different and definable Canadian signature," says Leier.

"The demarcation is pretty much coincidental with the modern day border."

Also the implication of the data suggests that the rivers that flowed west to east from the mountains in the United States stayed in the United States, and those in Canada stayed in Canada.

"In other words, there is no evidence that rivers in western North America were crossing what is today the border," says Leier.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. L. Leier, G. E. Gehrels. Continental-scale detrital zircon provenance signatures in Lower Cretaceous strata, western North America. Geology, 2011; 39 (4): 399 DOI: 10.1130/G31762.1

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Even Canadian rocks are different: Sedimentary differences on either side of border date back 120 million years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328092425.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2011, March 29). Even Canadian rocks are different: Sedimentary differences on either side of border date back 120 million years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328092425.htm
University of Calgary. "Even Canadian rocks are different: Sedimentary differences on either side of border date back 120 million years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328092425.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins