Two hundred million years ago, a supercontinent called Gondwana broke-up under the Indian Ocean. Researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand have confirmed the existence of a ‘lost continent’ under Mauritius.

On the island, a piece of crust which appears like a tiny piece of ancient continent still remains. They found that this has been subsequently covered by young lava from the volcanic eruptions on the island. It had broken off from the Madagascar Island when India, Africa, Antarctica and Australia split up, and the Indian Ocean formed.

They found zircons on the island. These are minerals found in the granites from the continents. These contain trace amounts of uranium, lead, and thorium; and survive geological process very well. These serve as rich accurately-dateable sources of record of geological processes.

The study suggests that the break-up of Gondwana lead to many differently sized pieces of the continent collectively referred to as “Mauritia” spread all over the Indian Ocean. This indicates that the splitting process was a complex splintering one which fragmented the continental crust.

This study published in the journal Nature Communications will help us better understand the geological history of the earth. 

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