50-mln-year-old catastrophe rearranged, Pacific, Australia

November 14th, 2007 - 2:50 am ICT by admin  
According to the research, the collapse of an underwater mountain range in the Pacific turned Australia into a warm and sunny continent rather than a snowbound wasteland.

This event also created some of the islands dotting the South Pacific now, the study reported.

“We have found that the destruction of an entire mid-ocean ridge, known as the Izanagi Ridge, initiated a chain reaction of geological events,” said Joanne Whittaker, a doctoral student at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences who led the research.

Whittaker and her team used geophysical data gathered by scientists from Australia and Russia, to confirm that the ridge plunged underneath a plate of Earth’s crust that stretched between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The Japanese landmass then acted as a vast plug in the crack between the plates, changing their movement and rearranging the geography of the Pacific, the findings revealed.

It eventually led to the emergence of dozens of small volcanic islands like Tonga and the island chains running north and east from Papua New Guinea, the study said.

Whittaker said the cause of [this] major change in the motion of the Pacific plate had for long puzzled scientists, adding that the team also deduced that the event changed the movement of the Australian continent, causing it to move due north at 2.75 inches (7 centimetres) a year.

“Australia would have been located much further south and would have had a climate more similar to Scandinavia or Alaska were it not for this event. Only the very northern parts of the continent would have been warm,” said Whittaker.

She said, at the time of the event, Antarctica and Australia were part of the same southern landmass, but that data from Australia’s national geoscience agency and Russia’s Okeangeologia Institute showed that Australia fitted against Antarctica more than 310 miles (500 kilometres) further east than was previously believed.

She said this discovery led the team to identify the change in Australia’s course of direction and the chain reaction that caused it, reports National Geographic. (ANI)

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