Ice age African desert, exploring the desert nation in southern Africa.
A area journey to Namibia to check volcanic rocks led to an surprising 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 a whole bunch of lengthy, steep hills. They rapidly realized the bumpy panorama was formed by drumlins, a kind of hill usually present in locations as soon as coated in glaciers, an irregular attribute for desert landscapes.
“We rapidly realized what we had 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,” mentioned 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.”
After returning dwelling from the journey, Andrews started researching the origins of the Namibian drumlins, solely to be taught they’d by no means been studied.
“The final rocks we had been proven on the journey are from a time interval when southern Africa was coated by ice,” Andrews mentioned. “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 fashioned or that they had 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. Nevertheless, 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.
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 huge, lengthy grooves within the rock because it moved,” Andrews mentioned. “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 out there data from Google Earth and Google Maps to measure their size, width and top.
“This work is essential as a result of not a lot has been revealed on these glacial options in Namibia,” mentioned McGrady, a senior geology scholar from Hamlin. “It’s attention-grabbing to suppose that this was pioneer work in a way, that this is among the first papers to cowl the traits of those options and offers some perception into how they had been fashioned.”
Their findings additionally verify 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 had been as soon as joined,” Andrews mentioned.
The examine, “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.
“It is a nice instance of a elementary discovery and new insights into the climatic historical past of our world that stay to be found,” mentioned Tim Carr, chair of the Division of Geology and Geography.