Researchers have revealed that they may have discovered the remains of the lost continent of Mauritia, which spanned across the current Indian Ocean before it fell into the sea due to geological events.
A group of researchers went to the island of Mauritius in 2015, which is located east of Madagascar. They wanted to study volcanic rocks but found ancient crystals embedded among the rocks. The crystals were dated to be around three billion years old. This is particularly fascinating because the surface of the volcanic island is 300 times younger than the crystals.
This type of crystals belonged to continents, but the island is mostly surrounded by sea. Only when the scientists began exploring the possibility that the crystals belonged to a lost continent which plunged into the India Ocean at one point in the geological evolution of Earth.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications. The study reveals that below the young volcanoes found on the Island of Mauritius, there is an ancient lost continent. Lewis Ashwal, geoscience researchers with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, was the first one to suggest the existence of such a massive swathe of land under the Indian Ocean.
The volcanic rock of Mauritius is only around nine million years old, which makes it strange to find much older zircon crystals. Ashwal believes that when the volcanoes formed and started to spew out magma from the mantle of the planet, it also brought zircon crystals found in the drowned lost continent to the surface, as they were too tough to melt.
This discovery allows scientists to learn more about the tumultuous evolution of the planet, from the formation of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which included Africa, Australia, India, and Antarctica, to its separation into the current continents. However, the discovery of the lost continent of Mauritia means that the separation wasn’t as clean as scientists previously believed.
More research is needed to determine how much of the lost continent can be found below the island as well as throughout the Indian Ocean. Ashwal believes that its remains are mostly scattered in shoals, banks, and ridges.
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