Researchers find lost continent lurking under Indian Ocean

Scientists have confirmed the existence of a "lost continent" that was once sandwiched between India and Madagascar now lies scattered on the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Researchers find lost continent lurking under Indian Ocean

Scientists have confirmed the existence of a "lost continent" that was once sandwiched between India and Madagascar now lies scattered on the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

The lost continent was left-over by the breakup of the supercontinent, Gondwana, which started about 200 million years ago.

The piece of crust, which was subsequently covered by young lava during volcanic eruptions on the island, seems to be a tiny piece of the ancient continent, which broke off from the island of Madagascar, when Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica split up and formed the Indian Ocean.


"We are studying the break-up process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet," said Professor Lewis Ashwal from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

The first clues to the continent’s existence came when some parts of the Indian Ocean were found to have stronger gravitational fields than others, indicating thicker crusts. One theory was that chunks of land had sunk and become attached to the ocean crust below.

Mauritius was one place with a powerful gravitational pull. In 2013, Lewis Ashwal at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and his colleagues proposed that the volcanic island was sitting on a piece of old, sunken continent.

Although Mauritius is only 8 million years old, some zircon crystals on the island’s beaches are almost 2 billion years old. Volcanic eruptions may have ejected the zircon from ancient rock below.