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Earth Science

Scientists Discover Evidence of a 'Lost Continent' Under the Indian Ocean (earthsky.org) 78

Scientists at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa say they've discovered evidence of a "lost continent" beneath the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. According to EarthSky, the evidence of the "lost continent" may be leftover from the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, which started to break up around 200 million years ago. The evidence itself "takes the form of ancient zircon minerals found in much-younger rocks." From the report: Geologist Lewis Ashwal of Wit University led a group studying the mineral zircon, found in rocks spewed up by lava during volcanic eruptions. Zircon minerals contain trace amounts of radioactive uranium, which decays to lead and can thus be accurately dated. Ashwal and his colleagues say they've found remnants of this mineral far too old to have originated on the relatively young island of Mauritius. They believe their work shows the existence of an ancient continent, which may have broken off from the island of Madagascar, when Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica split up and formed the Indian Ocean. Ashwal explained in a statement: "Earth is made up of two parts -- continents, which are old, and oceans, which are "young." On the continents you find rocks that are over four billion years old, but you find nothing like that in the oceans, as this is where new rocks are formed. Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years. 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 has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
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Scientists Discover Evidence of a 'Lost Continent' Under the Indian Ocean

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was referenced in several Japanese video games.

  • I mean, come on!

  • WOW! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @12:16AM (#53816827)
    They discovered the ground and they say they found it just lying there under a bunch of other ground that was covering it up? That is pretty special.
  • And was its ruler Namor or Aquaman?

  • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @12:25AM (#53816853)
    Any city ruins?

    Let me know if they find a mirror that answers to the name of Persilian.

  • Forget Atlantis, I've been telling everyone about Dino Island for decades. It's where velociraptors evolved into birds and wiped out all of the other dinosaurs.
  • ... is gonna be pissed.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @02:10AM (#53817145)

    Qui-Gon Jinn and Wanda????

    Shit.

  • A bit too much hype (Score:4, Interesting)

    by olegalexandrov ( 534138 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @02:31AM (#53817193) Homepage
    First, it is a tiny continental fragment, not a whole continent. Second, their evidence is based only tiny crystals washed ashore, as all island is covered in more recent lava. I will trust this more when they actually drill through that one or two km of lava to recover the actual ancient continental crust.
    • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @08:19AM (#53817925) Homepage

      Mostly correct but the zircon crystals were not "washed ashore" but included in the lava that was spewed up to form the islands. Older, deeper Lava as well as more recent lavas have been shown to contain some zircon crystals older than should have been possible coming from oceanic crust. The solution is that some crustal material is getting recycled back up in the lava.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes it helps to RTFA in this case. The summary is a bit off. The breakup of the continents was not quite the tidy affair you may have been taught, quite often the spreading ridges relocate themselves and the result is shards of continental material left behind. In this case there was evidence found that Mauritius was one such shard (much like Madagascar) left behind as India sped away from África. There are two generations of zircons, one with 2-3 Ga ages typical of archean crustal blocks, and ano

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      First, it is a tiny continental fragment, not a whole continent. Second, their evidence is based only tiny crystals washed ashore, as all island is covered in more recent lava. I will trust this more when they actually drill through that one or two km of lava to recover the actual ancient continental crust.

      No. Even the summary does not suggest that Mauritius is an "old" continental fragment ("Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island."). They are reporting o

  • The amount of techtonic shifts and activities without major earthquakes in 6000 years makes one really appreciate the book of Genesis more

    • Ha! 'Earthquake' probably is too small a term for what would happen if we compressed geological history into that timeframe. I expect Marvin the Martian would be impressed.
  • If anyone lost it, it was the scientists. And now we're supposed to congratulate them for finding it again?

  • Lemuria? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @10:01AM (#53818347) Journal
    I am from Tamil Nadu the state on the southern peninsula of India. It is very commonly believed by Tamil people there was a lost continent south of the southern tip of India. They call it Lemuria [wikipedia.org], believing it extended all the way to Madagaskar, the land of the Lemurs.

    Ancient Tamil literature mentions many places and things that were "taken by the Sea". The city of South Madurai where the First Tamil Sangam (Institute) was established. The river Pahtruli, the first ever grammar book of Tamil called Agasthiam, the five great epics associated with the First Sangam were all taken by the sea. The oldest extant Tamil book is a grammar book, called Tholkappiam (literally Old Literature) is believed to be derivative of the lost book Agasthiam.

    Since Homo sapiens broke out of Africa just 75,000 - 100,000 years ago it is commonly believed by the scientists that these events did not take place in geological time. The most common explanation was that, these were the folk memories of the ending of the last ice-age, 9000 years ago. Sea levels rose, inexorably and the coastal communities moved slowly to the higher ground, each generation remembering that they used to live where the sea was. The places mentioned in the fragments of Tamil literature must have been in the continental shelf just south of Cape Comarin.

    In the Tsunami of 2004, people claim seeing a temple in the sea bed when the seas retreated before the onslaught of the tsunami off the coast of Mahabalipuram. The local legend claims the present shore temple [google.com] is the seventh in the series, as the previous six were "taken by the Sea".

    • The folk memory of the ending of the last ice-age exists in many cultures. In most cultures it is similar to the Tamil literature references: "Sea rose, and kept rising, took some stuff. We remember it."

      It is drastically different from the Flood legends of Hindu, Sumerian and Abrahamic Flood Legends. "God was angry at the sinfulness of the world and He destroyed most of Humanity, sparing a selected few" is common to these religions. Hindu Noah is called Manu. He was spared by Lord Vishnu who came in the f

      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        There's another theory that something similar might have happened with the Red Sea a bit further back. (Though again, not a lot of evidence saying whether humans were in the area at the time and if it might have had a lasting effect on their mythology.)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • 9000 years ago, the shorelines were quite different. For example, the Indus valley extended hundreds of miles into the Indian ocean, only to disappear over the course of one or two thousand years. The Persian Gulf was 90% land. The Red Sea was cut off from the Indian ocean. There were many places where entire small civilizations could have clustered cities/villages on rich alluvial lands near ocean shorelines, places that are now submerged. If those civilizations failed to build large stone buildings,
  • Here's the satellite view on Google maps:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mauritius/@-13.1797616,57.7735312,2289136m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x217c504df94474c9:0x4203d9c2116bd031!8m2!3d-20.348404!4d57.552152 [google.com]

    It kind of looks like Japan.

    Anybody could have found this by merely playing with any of the numerous views of the ocean floor we've had in the last few decades, though it is neat to see evidence of it having previously been above water with notable signs of life.

  • walk into Gondwana

  • Probably caused it to sink eh?

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