If you’ve always dreamed of visiting the Grand Canyon but haven’t found the time or money to travel to America yet, you’re in luck. It turns out, according to a recent and frankly mind-blowing discovery, that a chunk of the Grand Canyon is sitting pretty in Australia’s small island state Tasmania of all places.
Geologists from Melbourne’s Monash University discovered rock formations on Tasmania‘s north-west coast, in Rocky Cape National Park, that resemble the famous canyon. On a hunch, they decided to test them and see if they were, in fact, the same type of rocky material—lo and behold, they were correct.
Rocky Cape National Park in Tasmania
Image source:Wikimedia Commons
Chemical testing of the Tasmanian rocks found they had extremely similar stratigraphy, depositional age, and other high tech markers in common with America’s famous canyon. Things like ‘detrital zircon U-Pb age distribution and Hf isotope composition’. You might be thinking ‘ok, but rocks are rocks’. Well, not quite. The odds of rock formations of the same age being formed in the same way with the same mix of matter is actually quite rare. After all, how many other Grand Canyon’s have you come across in your travels?
Those who remember Geography class well will also know that scientists have long theorised that all the Earth’s continents were once one giant supercontinent. That is, before splitting off into their current (but always changing) positions thanks to geothermal and tectonic movement. By that reasoning, Australia’s coast was part of North America’s west coast roughly 700 million years ago.
“We concluded that although it’s now on the opposite side of the planet, Tasmania must have been attached to the western United States.” – Jack Mulder, New Scientist
Slowly, slowly, they drifted apart and now there’s some pretty compelling evidence that suggests parts of Tasmania were once housed happily in the Grand Canyon. It’s a pretty cool find (even if you’re not a big old nerd like moi) and is just one more reason why the beautiful island of Tasmania is worth discovering. And for all the Aussies—what are you waiting for?