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Ancient 'Lost Continent' Found In The Indian Ocean

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Ancient 'Lost Continent' Found In The Indian Ocean

Featured Image Credit: University of the Witwatersrand

Deep under the Indian Ocean, scientists have just found a submerged micro-continent underneath the African island of Mauritius.

It's not just a small island - but an actual continent under the sea. When it was above water, it would have been almost a thousand miles long and once linked India and Madagascar.

Found underneath the island of Mauritius, the micro-continent has been named Mauritia by amazed scientists.

Of course, now we have seven continents, but Earth's tectonic plates are constantly moving and over millions of years have shifted dramatically. Back when the land was still forming and reforming itself, there was one super continent called Pangea that broke up to form smaller continents.

Credit: University of Witwatersrand

Professor Lewis Ashwal, who leads the team that found the lost continent, thinks that the micro-continent Mauritia was a part of a larger continent called Gondwana, which smashed into Pangea and later broke away to create South America, Antarctica, Africa and Australia.

Mauritius has an usually strong gravitational pull which led Professor Ashwal to believe the island was sitting on top of a volcanic sunken micro-continent. The island itself was only formed 9 million years ago, but the clue was in pieces of rock which had floated up from the micro-continent beneath.

Professor Ashwal told New Scientist: "Mauritius is an island...no older than 9 million years old... However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years."

A zircon is a colourful gemstone - and in this case it proved that there was land much older than the island beneath it.

Credit: University of Witwatersrand

Scientists now think there might be more micro-continents submerged beneath the ocean. After all, the Earth is over 70 per cent water.

However, Mauritia is much too old to be Atlantis, which is thought to be 84 million years old.

Underwater cities aren't just a thing of the past. Japanese architects Shimizu Corporation want to build their own cosmopolis under the sea called Ocean Spirals. The fantastical plan will cost a cool £25 million and be 16,400 ft under water, just off the coast of Tokyo. Nine mile long spirals would convert power from the tides - so it would also be sustainable and a sphere in the centre could host 5,000 people! Pretty cool.

Words by Laura Hamilton

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