The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 01:00

New findings reveal a bridge existed between UK and Europe

Natural bridge between England and rest of Europe Natural bridge between England and rest of Europe.

A study from Plymouth University in the UK shows that, millions of years ago, a natural bridge between England and rest of Europe existed.

Until today, it was supposed that UK was formed due to the collision of Avalonia and Laurentia, two micro-continents in the Paleozoic era. However, new research shows that Armonica, a third continent that now consists the northwestern region of France, was also involved. Among other evidence, amounts of tin and tungsten in southwestern England are similar to those in France.

These collisions would have occurred about 400 million years ago, before the formation and break-down of Pangaea when the Europe started to take its current form.  Arjan Dijkstra, a petrologist and one of the researchers, states: "We always knew that around 10,000 years ago you would have been able to walk from England to France. But our findings show that millions of years before that, the bonds between the two countries would have been even stronger. It explains the immense mineral wealth of south west England, which had previously been something of a mystery, and provides a fascinating new insight into the geological history of the UK."

Findings show that the border between Avalonia and Armorica cuts across the areas of Devon and Cornwall instead of lying under the channel between England and France. Mr. Dijkstra said: "This is a completely new way of thinking about how Britain was formed. Our findings suggest that although there is no physical line on the surface, there is a clear geological boundary which separates Cornwall and south Devon from the rest of the UK."

22 different sites in Devon and Cornwall were studied. It was found that the abovementioned area establishes a boundary where rock samples below it match samples from Armorica in France whereas rock composition above it is similar to the rest of England. Scientists utilized fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry, a technique where X-rays are directed at a sample, producing secondary X-rays to determine the composition of a material. Samples were also dissolved in acid to enable the identification of their isotopic make-up and particularly the levels of strontium and neodymium which consist key factors of geological history. The boundary between the two rock types was clarified when composition from samples across the rest of Europe was taken into account.


Read 501 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 September 2018 15:44

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