Do you know what it feels like to chance upon a new place, that in actuality, has been there the whole time? For us, this is even better if it has to do with good, cheap food, but scientists have put all those simplistic joys to shame, with their discovery of a missing continent, that was part of ‘Gondwana’, the supercontinent, millions of years ago.
The continent is officially known as ‘Mauritia’ and is located under Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. As we begin to learn more about the ocean and what lurks within its depths, we certainly hadn’t expected an entire continent to be hidden down there. Professor Lewis Ashwal, the leading author of the paper on this discovery, stated that this discovery paves the way for a much better understanding of our planet’s geological history. In fact, he even said that the ocean could hold several more pieces, within its depths. When the supercontinent split due to tectonic movement, it splintered into several pieces, of varying sizes. Mauritia is only one of the many pieces that went out into the Indian Ocean.
The discovery was made by chance, while studying the mineral, zircon. This mineral is found in rocks that have come to the surface, after a volcanic eruption. Certain stones found on Mauritius were found to be several million years too old, for them to be part of the island. This proved that somewhere below Mauritius, was a landmass that could only have been a part of Gondwana.
Feature Image Credit: Condé Nast Traveller
Words: Cara Shrivastava