Not exactly Atlantis, but a piece of a lost continent was discovered by geologists floating in the Indian Ocean beneath Mauritius. The island was formed over the course of 9 million years as a result of volcanic activity. However, scientists identified a rock formation that had a mineral in its composition several billion years older that the rest of the materials found on Mauritius.
The discovery prompted a team of researchers from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to further investigate the rock formations on Mauritius. According to their report, the scientists believe that the floating piece of ancient continent is actually a fragment of the 200-million-year-old super-continent Gondwana that split about 180 million years ago to form Antarctica, Africa, Australia, South America, and India.
The study published in the journal Nature Communication states that the lost continent was concealed by a layer of young lava. The researchers also noted the formation was probably a fragment of ancient Madagascar.
Professor Lewis Ashwal, lead author of the study, explains that Earth is comprised of very old formations, billions of years of age, like the continents and younger ones, like the oceans. Hence, it is only natural to find billion-year-old rocks on continents, but not in the middle of the ocean, he said.
Even so, the team of researchers managed to extract a piece of rock that contained 3-billion-year-old zircons in it, while the age of Mauritius has been approximated at roughly 9-million-year-old. because of their properties, zircons can be dated extremely accurately. Not only that, but they also contain traces lead, uranium, and thorium. The researchers explain zircons occur mainly in granites from the continents. Add their highly resilient nature, compounds, properties that make them highly accurate to date, and place of origin to the mix and you have a complete geological map of the place, as well as a time stamp on the sample.
“The fact that we found zircons of this age proves there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent”, concluded Professor Lewis Ashwal.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first mention of a piece of lost continent under Mauritius. Similar discoveries made headlines in 2013 but were quickly dismissed by the academic community that believed the mineral could have either been carried to the island by mistake of blown in by strong winds.
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