Raindrops peg Sierra’s age at 40 million years | SierraSun.com

Raindrops peg Sierra’s age at 40 million years

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) ” Prehistoric raindrops locked in crumbling boulders led Stanford University researchers to conclude the Sierra Nevada is at least 40 million years old, much older than previously thought.

New geological evidence shows that the traditional estimate of 3 million to 5 million years old appears far too low, three Stanford geoscientists said in a paper published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

There is no debate about the age of the rocks beneath the Sierra: radioactive dating shows they are up to 120 million years old. But scientists have not been able to agree on when the rocks lurched upward to create the mountain range.

Andreas Mulch, Page Chamberlain and Steve Graham of Stanford’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences gathered rainwater samples found in dry river tributaries during camping trips in the Sierra starting in 2004.

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