It might sound a little far-fetched, but pieces of an ancient continent have been found buried deep underneath at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, near the island of Mauritius, claims a research team led by the South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand.
The new found lava-covered piece of the continent is dubbed ‘Mauritia’ by the researchers.
As per the reports published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’, the piece of the continent was likely left over from the breaking up of Gondwanaland, a supercontinent that existed more than 200 million years ago.
Gondwanaland contained rocks up to 3.6 billion years old before it split up into today's Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia.
Mauritia probably formed part of present-day Madagascar and India. The rest of the continent probably sank beneath the sea 84 million years ago.
“There are a number of pieces of undiscovered continent of various sizes, leftover by the breakup and which are spread over the Indian Ocean,” said professor Lewis Ashwal, lead author of the paper.
Ashwal further added, “This break-up simply does not involve a splitting of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, but a complex splintering took place with fragments of continental crust of variable sizes left adrift within the evolving Indian Ocean basin.”
The research team made the discovery by observing and analyzing a mineral called zircon, found mostly in the granite form in rocks, spouted up by lava during volcanic eruptions. The minerals were as many as 3 billion years old on the island of Mauritius which is itself only 8 million years old.
The researchers, after a thorough examination, claimed that the remains of the mineral were far too old to belong to the island of Mauritius. “Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island”, said Ashwal.
Researchers had previously found zircon crystals of a similar age on the beaches of Mauritius in 2013, but critics questioned whether they could have been blown onto the island from elsewhere.
“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,” said Ashwal.
Check out the video to know all about the new found continent:
Title image: cntraveller
Information source: Cnn