The island of Mauritius, a tropical destination in the Indian Ocean due east of Madagascar, was the hub of a lost continent hundreds of millions of years ago, says new research. "However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as three billion years", he said.
It is believed that the submerged landmass was left-over following the break-up of the supercontinent, Gondwana, which started about 200m years ago and was subsequently covered by young lava during volcanic eruptions on the island. This has led scientists to believe that they have found a fragment of the Gondwana supercontinent, which existed more than 200 million years ago. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years, " professor Ashwal said in a statement. A study done in 2013 found traces of the mineral in beach sand as well, but that study was widely disregarded given that those zircons could have arrived by wind, or even on the shoes of human visitors.
Thought to be a relatively new landmass, the island was formed by very big underwater volcanic eruptions between 8 and 9 million years ago, and now belongs to the Mascarene Islands archipelago, along with the Saint Brandon, Réunion, and Rodrigues islands. The split-up occurred because of the geological process of plate tectonics.
A long-lost continent once sitting between India and Madagascar now lies at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, according to a report published Tuesday.
'It's like plasticine: when continents are stretched they become thinner and split apart, ' Martin Van Kranendonk at the University of New South Wales told New Scientist. He also served as the lead author of their paper entitled "Archaean zircons in Miocene oceanic hotspot rocks establish ancient continental crust beneath Mauritius".
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He further added that in Mauritius there are no rocks that could possibly be older than 9 million years.
The study said there are likely many pieces of various sizes of "undiscovered continent, collectively called "Mauritia", spread over the Indian Ocean".
"Earth is made up of two parts - continents, which are old, and oceans, which are "young".
The island of Mauritius is located about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) off the southeast coast of the African continent.
"(This) corroborates the previous study and refutes any suggestion of wind-blown, wave-transported or pumice-rafted zircons for explaining the earlier results", said Ashwal. Researchers recorded their findings in the journal Nature Communications.