Norway's rocks and mountains have been found to have been formed much quicker than originally thought – thanks to the dating of argon.

Geologists from the University of New South Wales have been carrying out research in the mountains of the Southern Caledonides in the western part of the country and have found that the build-up could have been much quicker and also cooler than previously believed.

A continental collision occurred in the Southern Caledonides around 425 million years ago which caused many of the rocks to be buried to 36 miles deep. The rocks have since returned to the surface and the geologists have found the time between burial and resurfacing has taken only 13 million years instead of the 40 million previously thought, implying that the mountains grew faster than had been believed.

Ben Henson from the University said: \\$quot;Until now, scientists believed most of the rock package gets heated to around 700 degrees centigrade.

\\$quot;Precise dating based on radiogenic isotope data confirms most of the rocks are heated to only around 400 degrees centigrade.\\$quot;

Argon ratios found in the rocks suggest they were heated over very short periods – in some cases just 10 years.

The dating has been carried out by comparing two forms of argon found – the ratio of the gas found acts like a clock ticking off the time since the rock was cool enough to trap the argon.

The discovery explains many geological observations worldwide which have previously puzzled scientists.

For further information:
The University of New South Wales