Long-lost continent found submerged deep under Indian Ocean

"On the continents you find the rocks that are over four billion years old, but you find nothing like that in the oceans, as this is where new rocks are formed", noted Ashwal. Ashwal and his colleagues have found that remnants of this mineral were far too old to belong on the island of Mauritius.

Gondwanaland is a super-continent that existed more than 200 million years ago and contained rocks as old as 3.6 billion years old, before it split up into what are now the continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia.

The proposed "lost continent" would have once connected Madagascar and India in the Gondwana supercontinent, but likely disappeared into the Indian Ocean around 84 million years ago.

According to the report, the team of scientists found zircon crystals that were up to 3 billion years old even though Mauritius is only 8 million years old.

By studying the minerals on the island Mauritius they found that something was amiss with its age. Located in the Indian Ocean, east of the much larger island nation of Madagascar, it is also one of the world's youngest land masses, having risen from the sea only 9 million years ago.

When they analysed the material within, they found tiny zircon crystals that were billions of years older than the landmass itself.

'Evidence is accumulating that old continental crust may occur beneath some young ocean-island volcanoes, contributing contaminating components to their chemical and isotopic compositions, ' the authors wrote.

But the find was controversial, because critics argued that these minerals could have blown onto the beach from elsewhere.

Scientists believe they have found the remains of an ancient continent lying on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, somewhere between India and Madagascar.

Researchers have long suspected that some parts of the Indian Ocean have stronger gravitational fields than others, indicating thicker crusts. "The fact that we found the ancient zircons in rock corroborates the previous study, and refutes any suggestion of wind-blown, wave-transported, or pumice-rafted zircons for explaining the earlier results", he told Phys.org.

It's expected that more chunks of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent will be dredged up in the coming years.

It was later determined this could be down to chunks of sunken land and the idea of an old continent was born.

"We are studying the breakup process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet", said Prof.

  • Essie Rivera