Geologists at the University of Oslo believe they have found a long-lost microcontinent, the remnants of which were located underwater between Madagascar and India.
No Atlantis artifacts have been discovered, so the researchers believe that the land came from Mauritius, which is a volcanic island east of Madagascar. Bjørn Jamtveit, a geologist at the University of Oslo, analyzed beach sand minerals and found some components that could be dated much older than the 8.9 million-year-old island.
The components, according to Jamtveit, can be dated back 660 million years ago. Some of them, called “zircons,” which are crystals extremely resistant to chemical change, were as old as 1.97 billion years old.
The researchers have hypothesized that these crystals were from an ancient continental mass located near Mauritius. They have also suggested that these minerals were able to surface because of geological recent volcanic eruptions that may have disturbed the ocean floor.
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The land mass, which the scientists have named “Mauritia,” likely split from Madagascar at the same time that the Indian subcontinent was pushed northeast millions of years ago. The stretching and thinning of the earth’s crust was what sunk the land mass, which is about three times the size of Crete, according to the scientists.
“There’s no obvious local source for these zircons,” says Conall Mac Niocaill, a geologist at the University of Oxford, UK. Mac Miocaill was not involved in the research, however, he suggests that the scientists’ theory about where the ancient components come from is plausible.