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Is Atlantis Real? Scientists Discover 'Lost Continent' on Ocean Floor

Update Date: Feb 25, 2013 03:12 PM EST

We have all heard stories of lost continents, like the tales of Atlantis. However, a new study indicates that there may be some truth in these stories. The paper purports that there may be a lost continent underneath the Indian Ocean, and the scientists claim that the proof is in the island of Mauritius.

According to the BBC, all of the continents now present in the world is believed to be part of a single mass called Rodinia. It was present as recent as 750 million years ago. Now thousands of miles apart, India would have been right beside Madagascar on this super-continent. Researchers believe that they have found proof a small micro-continent that would have connected the two countries that they have named Mauritia.

They made this discovery after combing the beaches of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian ocean and 2,000 miles off the coast of East Africa. The grains found in the beach samples were the result of a volcanic eruption that had occurred 9 million years ago; however, the minerals found inside the grains were millions of years older. The zircons had crystallized in rocks about 660 million years ago, Nature reports. Some of the zircons were even 1.97 billion years old.

Researchers have already ruled out some of the more obvious possibilities. For example, the zircons were found in locations so remote that it was unlikely that a person had brought them there. It also appears to be unlikely that the wind had blown the particles there, because they were too large.

In addition, the paper points out that some sections of the Earth's gravitational field is thicker than normal - 25 to 30 kilometers thick, rather than the normal 5 to 10 kilometers thick. That would support the idea that the continent lies on the ocean floor, scattered in pieces. It would have sunk to the ground due to stretching or thinning of the crust and, in total, would consist of a land mass about three times the size of Crete, the largest Greek island.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the University of Witwaterstrand and the University of Liverpool, among others. It was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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