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A piece of America found in northern Australia: Legacy of the 1.6-billion-year-old supercontinent Nuna

Throughout Earth’s 4-billion-year history, as continents shift around the globe, periods occur where the continents amass to form supercontinents. Most recently this occurred about 300 million years ago to form the supercontinent Pangea, where the southern continents (Africa, South America and Australia and Antarctica) were connected to Eurasia and North America. It is now recognised that a supercontinent termed Nuna formed about 1.6 billion years ago. Although previous researchers have speculated that north-east Australia was near North America, Siberia, or North China in Nuna, solid evidence have been hard to find from the ancient rocks.

In Australia, approximately two thirds of the country consist of basement rocks older than 600 million years. In North Queensland, 1.7 billion-year-old rocks are found in Mt. Isa and 500 km away in the Georgetown region. New sedimentological field data in conjunction with new and existing geochronological data from both regions revealed an unexpected constituent of the Australian continent.

PhD Student opportunities available!

Enjoy beaches, sun and working on a vast southern continent*? The ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship awarded to Z.X. Li, and Curtin University co-funding for both the Laureate Fellowship grant and the ARC Center of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems (CCFS), provide the opportunity for a number of PhD scholarships (for up to four years each) to work in the following fields.

  1. Palaeomagnetism and supercontinent reconstruction, with emphasis on Precambrian supercontinents. Field regions could be in Australia or overseas. (1 PhD position)
  2. Palaeointensity study in relation to supercontinent cycles, focusing on Precambrian mafic igneous rocks in Australia and elsewhere. (1 PhD position)
  3. 4D global to plate-scale geodynamic modeling using supercomputers. (1 PhD position)
  4. A study of oceanic Large Igneous Province (LIP) records in Australia and globally, involving case studies of accreted oceanic LIPs in pre-Cretaceous orogens in locations around the world. (potential PhD positions)
  5. Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic tectonostratigraphic analysis of the Yangtze Block. (potential PhD position)

Interested candidates are invited to contact Dr Josh Beardmore at; Ph +61-8-9266 4163.

*Need to know more about Perth and Western Australia? See here.




    Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Tectonics and Earth Resources

  • CCFS

    ARC Center of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems

  • TIGeR

    The Institute for Geoscience Research

  • Applied Geology

    The Department of Applied Geology, Curtin University

  • WASM

    Western Australian School of Mines

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Additional content

  • A CCFS-sponsored short course on the global climatic phenomenon known as Snowball Earth was held at Curtin University on 15 July, 2016.

  • The work of Applied Geology’s research fellow and lecturer, Chris Spencer, has seen him visit many exotic and remote locations around the world, documented on his travel blog Traveling Geologist – check out some of the incredible photos.