Geologists have recently discovered the truth about the ancient connection between the British mainland and France, and while it was previously believed that the British mainland was the result of a collision between two land masses, it is now known that it was actually the collision of three different land masses which caused its creation.
According to the University of Plymouth, geologists once believed that the formation of England, Scotland and Wales was the direct result of the land masses Laurentia and Avalonia merging during a process that occurred over 400 million years. But University of Plymouth geologists have now concluded that a third land mass named Armorica is the missing link in the creation of the British Mainland and the third land mass that was involved in this process.
This has helped greatly to explain why there is so much tungsten and tin in the south west region of England, which are metals that can be found in abundance in regions of France like Brittany, yet are not as heavily present in other parts of the UK.
The new study’s lead author Dr. Arjan Dijkstra explained that even though there may be no visible lines, Cornwall and south Devon are markedly different, geologically speaking, from anywhere else in the UK.
“This is a completely new way of thinking about how Britain was formed. It has always been presumed that the border of Avalonia and Armorica was beneath what would seem to be the natural boundary of the English Channel. But our findings suggest that although there is no physical line on the surface, there is a clear geological boundary which separates Cornwall and south Devon from the rest of the UK.”
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As part of the research for the new study, geologists found 22 different locations in both Cornwall and England that had suffered from events like volcanic eruptions. While these eruptions and other geological events would have taken place over 300 millions ago, they left behind their imprints with magma.
By using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry on rock samples that were collected from these 22 sites, geologists were able to analyze the strontium and neodymium of the rocks that were taken, which showed that there was a definite boundary that spanned from the Exe estuary to Camelford.
As Dr. Dijkstra noted, the links between England and France were found to be even stronger than previously believed.
“We always knew that around 10,000 years ago you would have been able to walk from England to France. But our findings show that millions of years before that, the bonds between the two countries would have been even stronger. It explains the immense mineral wealth of South West England, which had previously been something of a mystery, and provides a fascinating new insight into the geological history of the UK.”
The new study which shows the connection that links the British Mainland with France has been published in Nature Communications.