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Lost Continent Hidden Underneath The Indian Ocean - Found

25 February, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - Not long ago, scientists discovered two sunken islands in the remote waters of the Indian Ocean, which were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana.

Now, vast waters of this ocean reveal traces of a micro-continent hidden underneath the islands Reunion and Mauritius.

The continent fragment known as Mauritia detached about 60 million years ago while Madagascar and India drifted apart, and had been hidden under huge masses of lava, according to researchers.



Click on image to enlarge

A sonar image of the underwater land masses, almost the size of Tasmania, which scientists believe were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana. (University of Sydney)


Such micro-continents in the oceans seem to occur more frequently than previously thought and is often associated with mantle plumes, researchers from Norway, South Africa, Britain and Germany explain in their study published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience.

"On the one hand, it shows the position of the plates relative to the two hotspots at the time of the rupture, which points towards a causal relation," says Bernhard Steinberger of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and Dr. Pavel Doubrovine of Oslo University calculated the hotspot trail.

"On the other hand, we were able to show that the continent fragments continued to wander almost exactly over the Reunion plume, which explains how they were covered by volcanic rock."

These giant bubbles of hot rock rise from the deep mantle and soften the tectonic plates from below, until the plates break apart at the hotspots.

This is how Eastern Gondwana broke apart about 170 million years ago. At first, one part was separated, which in turn fragmented into Madagascar, India, Australia and Antarctica, which then migrated to their present position.


Click on image to enlarge

The coloured track (left colour scale) west of Reunion is the calculated movement of the Reunion hotspot. The black lines with yellow circles and the red circle indicate the corresponding calculated track on the African plate and the Indian plate, respectively. The numbers in the circles are ages in millions of years. The areas with topography just below the sea surface are now regarded as continental fragments. Credit: © GFZ/Steinberger


Plumes currently situated underneath the islands Marion and Reunion appear to have played a role in the emergence of the Indian Ocean.

If the zone of the rupture lies at the edge of a land mass (in this case Madagascar / India), fragments of this land mass may be separated off. The Seychelles are a well-known example of such a continental fragment. Based on the study of lava sand grains from the beach of Mauritius, the existence of further fragments.

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See also:
Geological Rift That Baffles Scientists Is Still Expanding

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