Scientists just discovered a new continent, and wait, what now??
Fun fact: Scientists just discovered a new continent. Yes, we said a new continent, and we are just as confused as you are.
While it sounds crazy that we could’ve missed a continent all this time, it’s true. The good news is, we now know where it is. And we can get to the bottom of where it’s been all this time.
According to Time, the continent lies under the waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s actually located beneath the small island nation of Mauritius, which is only 790 square miles big!
Apparently, Mauritius has always been on geologists’ radar because of its strong gravitational pull. It sits atop a “mascon,” a mass concentration of gravity caused by plate tectonics.
Seriously, we still can’t get over this information.
Scientists say that if Mauritius is on top of a “mascon,” it’s because plate tectonics caused a missing continent to shatter.
It then sunk from view, and eventually Mauritius rose up like a hidden treasure.
In a new paper published in Nature Communications, geoscientist Lewis Ashwal argues that 13 small grains of zircon confirm the existence of the missing continent. Yes, we understand this is complicated, but it is also really cool.
Ashwal collected zircon samples from the island and used uranium-lead dating techniques to discover their age. He discovered that the zircon is actually three billion years old, even though the island itself is only eight million years old. Therefore, the zircon wasn’t formed along with Mauritius, but already existed. Ashwal says underwater volcanoes brought the zircon onto the surface.
Scientists concluded that “a giant swath of land” once existed between India and Madagascar. It was a part of the supercontinent called Gondwanaland. But about 200 million years ago, Gondwanaland broke apart. And part of the landmass fractured and sank. The sunken land created “mascons,” volcanoes created Mauritius, and eruptions brought the zircon onto Mauritius.
This is insane. There was another continent and we all had no clue. What are your thoughts on this discovery?