According to new research, a team of scientists has discovered the lost “8th continent” that broke off from the supercontinent Gondwana 200 million years ago.
A team of researchers has found rocks Mauritius with embedded zircon crystals that are over 3 billion years old, in contrast to the island that is thought to be around 9 million years old.
This means there is likely a crust located underneath the island, and these crystals were carried up by volcanic activity.
And because of the rocks’ geological make-up, they can survive changes in phenomena for billions upon billions of years, leaving behind clues of where they have originated.
Scientists think that the “lost continent” sank underwater, and Mauritius rose up in it is place.
They call the island a “giant tombstone” dedicated to the memory of the 8th continent.
University of Witswatersrand geologist, Professor Lewis Ashwal, lead author on the paper of the discovery of the continent, which was published in the journal Nature, explains his work in the following statement:
“We are studying the break-up process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet. Archaean zircons in Miocene oceanic hotspot rocks establish ancient continental crust beneath Mauritius.”
He goes on to explain how these older rocks are evidence of a lost continent beneath the island:
“Earth is made up of two parts – continents, which are old, and oceans, which are “young”. On the continents you find 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. Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years.”
Researchers say that this new discovery might challenge the original notions that they had regarding the surface of the Earth before it broke up into the current formation of the seven continents.
More research is needed to see how this new continent will play a role in how they see the ancient world.