Ancient Rocks From Grand Canyon Discovered in Australia

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File photo: The Grand Canyon is pictured at sunrise. Do a bunch of ancient Tasmanian rocks hail from Arizona? Getty Images

Arizona is about 8,500 miles from Australia—more than a third of the world away. Yet scientists think a chunk of the mountainous walls of the Grand Canyon now sits in the land down under.

Researchers found rocks in Tasmania that contain minerals with a similar geochemical make-up to some of the oldest rock layers of the iconic American landmark. They published their results earlier this month in the journal Geology.

Although Australia and North America lie so far apart, one billion or so years ago, they were both part of one supercontinent called Rodinia. Although reconstructions of this mega landmass differ, it's thought to have contained all of today's continental plates.

The Tasmanian discovery helps geologists get a better idea of how all these chunks once fit together. "[This] paper shows that Tasmania holds the key to tying together the tectonic geography of the time," Alan Collins at the University of Adelaide, Australia, told New Scientist. "It's really a good link and tie that allows us to build full plate models of the ancient Earth."

Aged between 1.1 and 1.2 billion years old, the group of weird Tasmanian rocks just "didn't look a lot like similarly aged rocks nearby," study author and geologist Jack Mulder from Monash University in Australia, explained to the outlet.

The rock's geochemistry revealed they were a better fit for those in the Grand Canyon, some layers of which date back a mammoth 1.5 billion years. "We concluded that although it's now on the opposite side of the planet, Tasmania must have been attached to the western United States," he said.

In other geology news, scientists recently figured out how an incredibly powerful asteroid impact caused rocks on Earth to briefly behave like liquid. Probing the only crater on our planet that contains a "peak ring"—mountainous rocks poking up from the ground within its outer ring—revealed intense vibrations caused rocks to flow like fluid. The massive asteroid is the same one that killed off the dinosaurs.

Meanwhile in China, researchers have mapped a hidden cave hall lurking beyond a sinkhole beneath the forests of Guangxi. The gigantic structure is thought to have a volume of 236 million cubic feet. Explorations revealed craters, pillars, halls, corridors and rounded rocks called cave pearls. One expedition scientist described the cave complex as "world-class.