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.

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 September 23, 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 September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A day after over 100,000 people marched against climate change, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Manhattan's financial district. Over 100 people, including a person wearing a white polar bear suit, were arrested Monday night. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) After a year of poor rains and heavy fighting Somalia is again at risk of famine, just three years after food shortages killed 260,000 people. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
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