If you think you have good knowledge about the world’s continents, you may want to think again.

A ‘lost continent’ that was once squeezed between Madagascar and India apparently now lies right under the Indian Ocean Island Nation of Mauritius.

This ancient continent is called ‘Mauritia’, and formed India and most of the present day Madagascar. It is believed that this continent may have been a large part of a massive supercontinent Gondwana that broke up to become Africa, Australia, Antarctica and South America.

By studying zircon, a mineral found in rocks spewed up by lava during volcanic eruptions, on Mauritius, Professor Lewis Ashwal, the lead author on the study, and his colleagues found that remnants of this mineral were much too old to actually belong on the island.

The lost continent is buried beneath Mauritius and was swallowed up the ocean more than 80 million years ago

 

Ashwal said:

‘’Earth is made up of two parts – continents, which are old, and oceans, which are ‘young. On the continents you find rocks that are over four billion years old, but you find nothing like that in the oceans, as this is where new rocks are formed.

Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years.

The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent.’’

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