(ORDO NEWS) — New Zealand scientists believe the 60-tonne log may contain answers to questions about the ancient Lachamp event – when the north and south poles of the Earth switched places 40,000 years ago.
A 45,000-year-old log discovered during the construction of a new power plant could explain a mysterious global event that dramatically changed Earth’s climate.
The 60-tonne log was found nine meters below the ground in Ngawha on New Zealand’s North Island.
Top Energy, which is building the power plant, began earthworks in 2017 and dug out 900,000 cubic meters of soil before hitting a 16-meter log.
Scientist Alan Hogg of the University of Waikato determined that the tree dates back 40,500 years ago, according to the NZ Herald.
The log’s age has sparked interest among scientists studying the Lachamp event, a “magnetic reversal” when the Earth’s north and south magnetic poles swapped places.
It is not known exactly when this event occurred, but it is believed that approximately 41 – 45 thousand years ago.
Scientists hope that studying the level of radioactive carbon in the tree rings will allow them to determine when the reversal occurred and how long this process lasted.
Scientists believe that the magnetic reversal – and the accompanying drop in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, which allowed more solar radiation to reach the Earth’s surface – could have a significant impact on the climate.
“This tree is of great value, we have never found a tree of this age before,” says Mr. Hogg.
According to Mr. Hogg, judging by its size, the age of the tree when it died was 1500-2000 years.
The 16-meter log was transported to the nearby Ngāwhā Marae (sacred site) where a ceremony was held to hand over the ancient tree to the care of the hapū (Maori community).
Transporting the tree was a major undertaking: sections about 1.5 meters long on each side had to be cut off in order for it to be transported, with the stump alone weighing 28 tons.
The three sections were lifted by two 130-ton cranes and then transported by truck along the highway, the entire operation taking four hours.
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