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Melting glaciers, enough sand to bury London, and ancient ecosystem engineering
Date:3/19/2012

O'Brien and Ben A. van der Pluijm of the University of Michigan present 40Ar/39Ar step-heating analyses for pseudotachylytes from a Neoproterozoic normal fault system belonging to the St Lawrence Rift. Their analysis shows that these "fault rocks" preserve the timing of rifting and initial opening of the Iapetus Ocean. Ten analyses from two pseudotachylytes with varying matrix/clast ratios yield ages of 634.7 (plus or minus 1.6) to 663.9 (plus or minus 1.8) million years old. These ages show a linear relationship with the proportion of clast inclusions, resulting in lower intercept ages (i.e., no host rock) of 613.3 (plus or minus 5.1) and 614.2 (plus or minus 3.0) million years. These ages constrain major seismic faulting along the St Lawrence Rift System and significantly improve prior estimates for late Neoproterozoic rifting of Iapetus. The upper intercepts, reflecting host rock ages, match cooling ages of Grenville basement in the area. O'Brien and van der Pluijm conclude that the time of major continental rifting along the northern Laurentian margin and initiation of the Iapetus Ocean occurred circa 613� million years ago.


Transverse instability of megaripples
Hezi Yizhaq et al., Institute for Dryland Environmental Research, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, 84990, Israel. Posted online 19 Mar. 2012; doi: 10.1130/G32995.1.

Aeolian ripples, which form regular patterns on sand beaches and desert floors, indicate the fundamental instability of flat sand surfaces under the wind-induced transport of sand grains. Two kinds of sand ripples exist: normal, small ripples and megaripples with wavelengths reaching up to several meters. They differ also in their grain-size distributions (unimodal for sand ripples and bimodal for megaripples). While sand ripples form almost straight lines, megaripples have greater sinuosity due to their transverse instabili
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Contact: Christa Stratton
cstratton@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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