Ice age African desert, exploring the desert country in southern Africa, what we know


Ice age African desert, exploring the desert nation in southern Africa.

A subject journey to Namibia to check volcanic rocks led to an sudden discovery by West Virginia College geologists Graham Andrews and Sarah Brown.

Whereas exploring the desert nation in southern Africa, they stumbled upon a peculiar land formation—flat desert scattered with lots of of lengthy, steep hills. They rapidly realized the bumpy panorama was formed by drumlins, a sort of hill usually present in locations as soon as coated in glaciers, an irregular attribute for desert landscapes.

“We rapidly realized what we have been taking a look at as a result of we each grew up in areas of the world that had been underneath glaciers, me in Northern Eire and Sarah in northern Illinois,” stated Andrews, an assistant professor of geology. “It’s not like something we see in West Virginia the place we’re used to flat areas after which gorges and steep-sided valleys down into hollows.”

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After returning house from the journey, Andrews started researching the origins of the Namibian drumlins, solely to study that they had by no means been studied.

“The final rocks we have been proven on the journey are from a time interval when southern Africa was coated by ice,” Andrews stated. “Folks clearly knew that a part of the world had been coated in ice at one time, however nobody had ever talked about something about how the drumlins shaped or that they have been even there in any respect.”

Andrews teamed up with WVU geology senior Andy McGrady to make use of morphometrics, or measurements of shapes, to find out if the drumlins confirmed any patterns that will mirror common behaviors because the ice carved them.

Whereas regular glaciers have sequential patterns of rising and melting, they don’t transfer a lot, Andrews defined. Nonetheless, they decided that the drumlins featured giant grooves, which confirmed that the ice needed to be transferring at a quick tempo to carve the grooves.

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These grooves demonstrated the primary proof of an ice stream in southern Africa within the late Paleozoic Age, which occurred about 300 million years in the past.

“The ice carved massive, lengthy grooves within the rock because it moved,” Andrews stated. “It wasn’t simply that there was ice there, however there was an ice stream. It was an space the place the ice was actually transferring quick.”

McGrady used freely accessible data from Google Earth and Google Maps to measure their size, width and peak.

“This work is essential as a result of not a lot has been revealed on these glacial options in Namibia,” stated McGrady, a senior geology pupil from Hamlin. “It’s attention-grabbing to suppose that this was pioneer work in a way, that this is likely one of the first papers to cowl the traits of those options and offers some perception into how they have been shaped.”

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Their findings additionally affirm that southern Africa was positioned over the South Pole throughout this era.

“These options present yet one more tie between southern Africa and south America to point out they have been as soon as joined,” Andrews stated.

The research, “First description of subglacial megalineations from the late Paleozoic ice age in southern Africa” is revealed within the Public Library of Science’s PLOS ONE journal.

“This can be a nice instance of a basic discovery and new insights into the climatic historical past of our world that stay to be found,” stated Tim Carr, chair of the Division of Geology and Geography.


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