UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

July 18, 2008
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations (218) 726-8830
John W. Goodge, Professor, UMD Department of Geological Sciences, (218) 726-8486

UMD-Led Research Expedition Finds
North America - East Antarctica Connection Existed One Billion Years Ago

Research Paper Featured in Prestigious Science Magazine and National Science Foundation Main Webpage

UMD Professor of Geological Sciences, John W. Goodge and UMD masters student, Devon Brecke (along with five other scientists from the United States and Australia) conducted a research expedition with startling findings. The research of the UMD-led team (in 2005) confirms a hypothesis that Antarctica and North America were connected to one another about one billion years ago.

The paper was published in the prestigious Science Magazine in the July 11 issue. It was also featured on National Science Foundation's main webpage at:

John Goodge's team discovered glacial boulders in Antarctica that are identical to unique rocks in North America. The boulders show that rocks like those in North America must be hidden beneath the ice cap of Antarctica. The findings indicate the presence of granites in East Antarctica having the same age, geochemical properties, and isotopic signatures as the distinctive granites in Laurentia (North America and Greenland).

"About 800 million years ago, East Antarctica, now one of the coldest regions on Earth, abutted what is now California's Death Valley, one of the hottest. Both locales were part of an equatorial supercontinent called Rodinia", said UMD Professor John Goodge, in a feature article in Science News magazine.

The positions of Laurentia and other landmasses in the Precambrian supercontinent of Rodinia have been controversial. Although geological and isotopic data support an East Antarctic fit with western Laurentia, alternative reconstructions favor juxtaposition of Australia and Siberia, or South China.

The new research paper, entitled "A Positive Test of East Antarctica-Laurentia juxtaposition within the Rodinia Supercontinent" presents geologic, isotopic and geochronologic data that help to confirm the juxtaposition of Laurentia and East Antarctica at the time of the Rodinia supercontinent about one billion years ago.

Data for this research paper was collected during recent National Science Foundation-funded projects, and the critical lynch-pin piece of evidence was found during a UMD-led expedition to Antarctica in 2005.

The paper in Science Magazine can be found at:;321/5886/235

Press Release by National Science Foundation can be found at:

The paper has also been featured in the recent issue of the Science News magazine.,_neighbor

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