Researchers discover lost fragment of ancient continent in Canada's Baffin Island

The geologists found these ancient fragments while exploring samples from diamond exploration in Baffin Island

Over the years, researchers have found the remains of lost cities and ancient establishments which not only helped the humankind to restructure the history but also opened new areas for exploration. Recently, scientists from Canada have identified a new remnant of the North Atlantic Craton which is considered as an ancient part of Earth's continental crust.

The evidence was discovered while geologists were exploring samples from diamond exploration in Canada's Baffin Island.

The exploration which led to a major scientific payoff

Kimberlite is an igneous rock, which sometimes contains diamonds and considered as a mainstay of diamond exploration. These rocks are formed at depths of 150 to 400 kilometres for millions of years. As per the University of British Columbia geologist Maya Kopylova, such rocks are subterranean rockets that pick up passengers on their way to the surface. In addition, she said, "The passengers are solid chunks of wall rocks that carry a wealth of details on conditions far beneath the surface of our planet over time."

When the team of the geologists, including Kopylova, was analyzing samples collected from the De Beers Chidliak Kimberlite Province property in southern Baffin Island, they found that the wall rocks were very unique.

 Baffin Island
Baffin Island, Canada Wikimedia commons

The researchers bore a mineral signature that matched other portions of the North Atlantic Craton, exposed in southern West Greenland, an ancient part of Earth's continental crust that stretches from Scotland to Labrador.

As per Kopylova, who is the lead author of this study that was published in the Journal of Petrology, "The mineral composition of other portions of the North Atlantic craton is so unique there was no mistaking it. It was easy to tie the pieces together. Adjacent ancient cratons in Northern Canada—in Northern Quebec, Northern Ontario and in Nunavut—have completely different mineralogies."

Ancient continent

It should be noted that the earth's cratons are billion-year-old. Continental nuclei gather other continental blocks around earth's crust. Some of these nuclei can be noticed at the centre of existing continental plates like the North American plate, while other ancient continents have split into smaller fragments and been re-arranged by tectonic-plate movements.

Kopylova said that the finding of these lost pieces of earth's crust "is like finding a missing piece of a puzzle," which shows that ancient earth can not be completed without all these pieces. As per the researchers, the newly found fragments cover the Chidliak kimberlite province, situated in Baffin Island- which adds nearly 10 percent to the known expanse of the North Atlantic craton.

"We can now understand and map not only the uppermost skinny layer of Earth that makes up one percent of the planet's volume, but our knowledge is literally and symbolically deeper. We can put together 200-kilometre deep fragments and contrast them based on the details of the deep mineralogy," said Kopylova.

Related topics : Archaeology