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1.7 billion-year-old chunk of Canada found in Australia, suggesting supercontinent

Researchers have discovered rocks in northern Australia that are similar to those found in Canada, suggesting part of Australia was actually part of North America 1.7 billion years ago.
Researchers have discovered rocks in northern Australia that are similar to those found in Canada, suggesting part of Australia was actually part of North America 1.7 billion years ago. Geography Photos/UIG via Getty Images

Rocks from the Canadian Shield have been found in Northern Australia, suggesting parts of the two countries once were part of an ancient “supercontinent,” according to geologists.

The 1.7-billion-year-old bedrock was found in Georgetown, a small town in northeastern Australia. But the rock has geological signatures that are unknown to Australia, researchers said in a study published in the journal Geology on Jan. 17.

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The researchers believe the rock sediments look like it could be from the Canadian Shield.

This discovery suggests the Georgetown area was originally part of North America and formed a supercontinent called “Nuna,” the researchers said.

“Our research shows that about 1.7 billion years ago, Georgetown rocks were deposited into a shallow sea when the region was part of North America,” lead researcher, Adam Nordsvan, a PhD student from Australia’s Curtin University, said.

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WATCH: Top science discoveries of 2017

Top science discoveries of 2017
Top science discoveries of 2017

“Georgetown then broke away from North America and collided with the Mount Isa region of northern Australia around 100 million years later. This was a critical part of global continental reorganization when almost all continents on Earth assembled to form the supercontinent called Nuna.”

These landmasses have shifted numerous times, specifically 300 million years ago to form the supercontinent, Pangea. However, now scientists are saying Nuna was the first supercontinent.

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Scientists first proposed the existence of Nuna in 2002, also called Columbia.

“This new finding is a key step in understanding how Earth’s first supercontinent Nuna may have formed,” Nordsvan said.