Scientists Believe They've Discovered New 'Microcontinent'

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 11:12 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Scientists believe they have discovered evidence of a lost “microcontinent” that may have existed between 660 million and about 2 billion years ago.

According to an article on the National Geographic web site, a group of researchers have discovered sand grains on the island of Mauritius that contain fragments of the mineral zircon that could be anywhere from 660 million to approximately 2 billion years old.

Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, about 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa, east of Madagascar.

Scientists think the tiny island formed some nine million years ago from cooling lava spewed by undersea volcanoes.

In a new study, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists concluded that the older minerals once were part of a now vanished landmass.

“When lavas moved through continental material on the way towards the surface, they picked up a few rocks containing zircon," geologist Bjørn Jamtveit, a co-author of the study, wrote in an email to National Geographic.

“Most of these rocks probably disintegrated and melted due to the high temperatures of the lavas, but some grains of zircons survived and were frozen into the lavas [during the eruption] and rolled down to form rocks on the Mauritian surface,” Jamtveit explained.

The researchers have given the phantom microcontinent a name: Mauritia.

They believe tiny bits of the landmass were dragged up to the surface during the formation of Mauritius.

Jamtveit and his colleagues estimate that the lost microcontinent was about a quarter of the size of Madagascar, which, at 228, 900 square miles, is the world’s forty-seventh largest country.

Not everyone in the scientific community has come to the same conclusion as Jamtveit and his fellow geologists.

Jérôme Dyment, a geologist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics in France, is unconvinced by the work because, he says, it's possible that the zircons found their way to Mauritius by other means, either as part of ship ballast or modern construction material.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which are not given by the authors so far,” said Dyment, who did not take part in the research study.

"Finding zircons in sand is one thing, finding them within a rock is another one ... Finding the enclave of deep rocks that, according to the author's inference, bring them to the surface during an eruption would be much more convincing evidence," he said.



© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Study: Even Casually Smoking Marijuana Can Change Your Brain

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 14:26 PM

Casual use of marijuana can produce changes in parts of the brain associated with emotion and motivation, according to a . . .

Scientist Apologizes for Mistakes in Stem Cell Research

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 13:29 PM

A Japanese scientist who co-authored what was deemed breakthrough stem cell research issued an apology Wednesday over mi . . .

US Wins More Guilty Pleas in First Counterfeit Apps Case

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 18:45 PM

The final defendants in what the U.S. government called its first prosecution of a counterfeit apps case have pleaded gu . . .

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved