A new study that discovered 2-billion-year-old zircon minerals on Mauritius, a nine-million-year-old island, is the foundation of researchers claiming to have discovered a “lost continent” resting underneath the Indian Ocean.
Scientists believe that the lost continent now makes up part of our present-day Madagascar and India, while the remaining portion of the continent fell to the depths of the ocean about 84 million years ago.
Lewis Ashwal, lead author of the study, says that they are “studying the break-up process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet.”
Their theory contends that this lost continent was part of Gondwana, the 200-million-year-old massive supercontinent that would eventually break apart to form what is now Antarctica, Africa, Australia and South America.
What tipped off scientists to this discovery was the presence of an ancient mineral that technically shouldn’t exist on the young island of Mauritius. The mineral Zircon, typically found on rocks that have been coughed up during volcanic eruptions, was discovered on Mauritius, indicating that the layers underneath Mauritius are actually much older than previously thought.
Basically, the rocks on the surface of the Earth, found on continents, can be upwards of billions of years old, but anything in our oceans cannot be that old because of how young they are.
“Earth is made up of two parts — continents, which are old, and oceans, which are 'young,'" says Ashwal.
“The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent.”
The study, which can be found in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Communications, says that there is a high likelihood that there remain several pieces of “undiscovered continent” to be found all over the Indian Ocean, which they will collectively refer to as “Mauritia.”
Isn’t the Earth amazing?!
h/t USA Today