The elusive “lost continent”, Mauritia, may have been discovered as scientists claim to have traced it back to the waters under the Indian Ocean and Mauritius.
The Earth started out with just one continent. Called Pangaea, this is believed to have split in two. Its parts were titled Laurasia and Gondwana. This latter led to the present Southern Hemisphere landmass. Laurasia, once a supercontinent, broke into what we now know in the Northern Hemisphere.
Earth’s two parts are very different. And its oldest one, the continents, had quite a violent past. Research suggest that Gondwana broke it more ways than known. It resulted in Antarctica, Africa, Australia, and India.
But another part of its continental material also floated away. And it may have been swallowed by the Indian Ocean. At the time, this would have still been forming. And now, a research team claims to have found traces of this “lost continent”.
Research on the matter was carried out by a team of international researchers. The studies were led by Lewis Ashwal. He is a University of Witwatersrand in South Africa Professor and Geologist.
Research results were released earlier this week. They were published in the Nature Communications journal. Available online since January 31, the paper is titled as follows. “Archaean zircons in Miocene oceanic hotspot rocks establish ancient continental crust beneath Mauritius”.
This new “lost continent” was titled Mauritia. Research on the matter supports previous studies. Back in 2013, scientists found ancient zircons on Mauritius. The traces were discovered in beach sand. As such, some argued that it could have simply been blown there.
The current study is also based on ancient zircons. But these were found embedded in deep rock. Or more exactly, in trachyte. This is a 6 million years old formation. Ashwal and his team found an ancient crust piece.
Discovered on Mauritius, it could have been part of Mauritia. The crust was covered in lava. However, its crustal material was much older than the island. This fact led the scientists to the following conclusion.
Mauritius is situated on a much older crustal base. This latter could have only originated from a continent. More exactly, Gondwana. Mauritius is believed to have been formed through volcanic eruptions. This activity would have stemmed from midocean ridges. These are ocean floor fissures.
As such, Mauritius’s base would have to be relatively young. The current discovery contradicts this. The zircon traces are much older than the island.
Volcanic eruptions are still the most probable formation process. But they could have taken place on Mauritia. As they continued, the primeval rock would have been buried in lava.
As each lava layer cooled down, another was layered on top. This could have led to the current island bulk. And to a complete covering of Mauritia.
Ashwal went to offer some details. According to him, the Gondwana breakup was not just a split. It was a far more convoluted process. It may have involved a complex splintering. As the parts broke away, some continental crust could have been left adrift.
Various sized pieces of Mauritia could have ended up in the Indian Ocean. They may still be spread over or under its waters. Still, the current fact does prove an irrefutable fact.
It supports the 2013 find. The current crust piece could not have been wind blown on Mauritius. Nor could it have been pumice-rafted or wave-transported.
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