A little bit of England will always be French, study finds

Christopher Davidson
September 16, 2018

For centuries, scientists have thought the British mainland was created by the coming together of two landmasses, known as Avalonia and Laurentia, more than 400 million years ago.

However, geologists based at the University of Plymouth now believe that a third land mass - Armorica - was also involved in the process. They show a clear boundary, passing through two counties, with areas to the North, separating their geological roots to the rest of England and Wales, but the southern territory is geologically associated with France and continental Europe.

This has helped greatly to explain why there is so much tungsten and tin in the south west region of England, which are metals that can be found in abundance in regions of France like Brittany, yet are not as heavily present in other parts of the UK.

This is a completely new way of thinking about how Britain was formed, according to Dijkstra. The results showed that on the surface there is no physical line, there is a clear geological boundary that separates Cornwall and South Devon from the rest of the UK.

The connection lands led to the formation of the British Isles. These areas were exposed following underground volcanic eruptions that took place around 300 million years ago, leaving magma to the surface of the Earth.

Rocks from each site were subjected to a detailed chemical analysis in the lab using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. An isotopic analysis of the rocks - which involved comparing levels of strontium and neodymium elements - enabled the researchers to paint a fuller picture of the rocks' history. The results revealed a clear boundary from the Exe estuary leading toward the Camelford in the west.

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"We always knew that around 10,000 years ago you would have been able to walk from England to France", Dijkstra said.

"It explains the huge 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 United Kingdom".

Arjan H. Dijkstra et al, Mapping a hidden terrane boundary within the mantle lithosphere with lamprophyres, Nature Communications (2018).

Zircon as Earth's timekeeper: Are we reading the clock lawful?

Zircon crystals in igneous rocks might maybe maybe presumably presumably also still be conscientiously examined and no longer relied upon exclusively to predict future volcanic eruptions and other tectonic occasions, QUT researchers delight in shown. "However, the other group was compositionally very different, and we found that they were a flawless match for similar volcanic rocks with the same age in France, which also came from these depths".

A mystery beaver sighted in Devon might maybe maybe presumably presumably be the first case of the wild animal in England for 800 years.

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