Mauritius is part of a lost and underwater continent named Mauritia. Unbelievable but true! Scientists have found evidences of a hollow continent in the Indian Ocean. According to a study published in the Nature Geoscience Journal the continent “was separated from Madagascar and fragmented into a ribbon-like configuration by a series of mid-ocean ridge jumps during the opening of the Mascarene ocean basin”. They have now called this slice of land Mauritia.
Mauritia Broke Away from Madagascar
750 million years ago, the Earth’s land used to be gathered into one huge super-continent known as Rodinia. Adding so many tectonic rifts and millions of years to the recipe, we now have for example, Madagascar and India separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean. But there were those days, when these two lands used to be located next to each other!
According to the new researches, Mauritia broke away from Madagascar when India was drifting away from the latter. And since then, it has been covered by huge quantities of lava.
A Micro Continent Discovered
According a recent study of grains of sand from the beaches of Mauritius, scientists and researchers believe that they have found signs of a sliver of continent – that is, a micro continent which used to be between the “old” Madagascar and India.
Zircons, the root of the discovery
It is believed that the grains originated from the volcanic eruption 9 million years ago, and yet, they constitute of minerals that are much older. The researchers have found zircons, of 600 to 1970 million years old, from sand extracts of the Mauritian beaches.
These heavy minerals are usually obtained from continental crusts. Uranium and lead elements were used to know the ages of these minerals. The team stated that they were the remains of ancient land which have come to the surface of the island during a volcanic eruption.
And where is Mauritia?
Professor Torsvik, from the University of Oslo, Norway, believes that pieces of Mauritia can be located 10km under Mauritius. Around 85 million years ago, India broke off from Madagascar and moved to where it is now. With India’s upward shift, the micro-continent should have separated and vanished underneath the waves, leaving a small part behind. Currently the Seychelles is a “piece of granite or continental crust” in the Indian Ocean, while, previously it used to be next to the north of Madagascar. In this connection, the researchers believe that Mauritia could have been something much bigger and there are many slices of land beneath the ocean.
Further research required
Indeed, more research is required to fully explore this micro-continent’s remains. “We need seismic data which can image the structure… this could be the ultimate proof. Or you can drill deep, but that would cost a lot of money,” Professor Torsvik.