- Continent incorporates rocks which might be three.6 billion years outdated
- Mineral zircon in seashore sand supplied clue to continent
It would sound implausible, however deep on the backside of the Indian Ocean, a analysis group, led by South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, has discovered items of an historical continent.
The lava-covered piece of continent, dubbed ‘Mauritia,’ was discovered beneath the favored island of Mauritius.
Based on the report revealed this week within the journal Nature Communications, the piece of crust is left over from the breakup of Gondwanaland, a super-continent that existed greater than 200 million years in the past.
Containing rocks as much as three.6 billion years outdated, Gondawanaland break up into what now are Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia.
Professor Lewis Ashwal, lead creator of the paper, says there are a variety of items of “undiscovered continent” of varied sizes unfold over the Indian Ocean, left over by the breakup.
“This breakup didn’t contain a easy splitting of the traditional super-continent of Gondwana,” says Ashwal, however “a fancy splintering passed off with fragments of continental crust of variable sizes left adrift throughout the evolving Indian Ocean basin.”
The group made the invention by analyzing a mineral — zircon — present in rocks spewed up by lava throughout volcanic eruptions.
They stated that remnants of the mineral had been method too outdated to belong to Mauritius. “Mauritius is an island, and there’s no rock older than 9 million years outdated on the island,” says Ashwal. However by finding out rocks on the island, they discovered zircons that had been three billion years outdated.
The researchers say these findings corroborate a examine finished in 2013 that discovered traces of historical zircons in seashore sand. However critics stated the mineral may have been blown in by the wind, or carried in by the scientists.
Ashwal says the very fact the group discovered historical zircons in rock “refutes any suggestion of wind-blown, wave-transported or pumice-rafted zircons.”
The researchers say their outcomes display, in no unsure phrases, “the existence of historical continental crust beneath Mauritius.”
That continent could be misplaced eternally, however it’s nonetheless leaving traces to remind us of its existence.
“The truth that we’ve discovered zircons of this age proves that there are a lot older crustal supplies beneath Mauritius that might solely have originated from a continent,” stated Ashwal.