Three Billion Year Old Continent Emerges Under African Island

Scientists were able to unearth a piece of crust under the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. This helped them confirm the existence of a long lost continent known as Gondwana. This started out about 200 million years ago.

The crust was covered by young lava during volcanic eruptions within the vicinity of the island. This tiny fraction of ancient continent broke off from Madagascar after Africa, India, Antarctica and Australia split up to form the Indian Ocean.

The study was led by Wits geologist Professor Lewis Ashwal. He also served as the lead author of their paper entitled "Archaean zircons in Miocene oceanic hotspot rocks establish ancient continental crust beneath Mauritius." He said that thei group s studying the break-up process of the continents to trace the geological history of our planet. His study was published in Nature Communications, one of the most revered publications that feature studies of celebrated authors and researchers.

Live Science revealed that Ashwal and his colleagues from the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and Trond Torsvik from the University of Oslo and other agencies studied the mineral and zircon found in rocks spewed up by lava during volcanic eruptions. He discussed that the earth was made of two parts like ‘old’ continents and ‘young’ oceans. Rocks over four billion years old were also found on the continents.

According to, one of the dominant minerals found in the crust is Zircons. These are minerals that occur mainly in granites, and contain traces of uranium, thorium and lead. Due to their geological survival process, Zircons contain a rich record of geological processes and can be dated extremely accurately.

Almost one decade ago, a team of University of Oslo scientists led by Trond Torsvik, discovered a lost continent dubbed as Mauritia. This area separates India up to the northern part of Madagascar. The continent was reported to have sank beneath the ocean surface.

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