Researchers Discover Connection Between West Texas and East Antarctica

On a summer day in Texas, when it’s possible to work up a sweat doing almost anything outdoors, it’s hard to imagine that Texas and Antarctica could possibly have anything in common.

But this is exactly what an international team of researchers, including University of Texas research professor Ian Dalziel, has found, UT announced today.

In both the Franklin Mountains in West Texas and Coats Land in Antarctica, the team discovered rocks that have the same composition of lead isotopes and that are the same age, with similar chemical and geologic properties.

These discoveries support the SWEAT hypothesis, which states that North America and East Antarctica were connected in a supercontinent called Rodinia 1.1 billion years ago.

The findings also suggest links to southern Africa. In addition to the rocks found near El Paso, the rocks from Antarctica are also the same age as those found in the Umkondo large igneous province in southern Africa.

Ah, Antarctica—Texas’ long lost relative. Now if only we could borrow about 25 degrees.

Photo of the Franklin Mountains at moonrise by Paul Garland/Flickr Creative Commons


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