Lost continent discovered in Indian Ocean

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Slate: Evidence of a vanished "microcontinent" northeast of Madagascar has been published in a scientific paper by an international research team.

The researchers propose that the minerals came from a long-submerged landmass that was once wedged between India and Madagascar in a prehistoric supercontinent known as Rodinia. The theory is that, as India and Madagascar began to drift apart some 85 million years ago, the landmass broke apart and sank, Atlantis-style. The scientists have dubbed their lost microcontinent "Mauritia."

As ScienceNow's Tim Wogan explains, the first clue was a stronger-than-expected gravitational field around islands like Mauritius, the Seychelles, and the Maldives, which could indicate unusually thick crust. Andreas Munster of Germany's University of Munster told ScienceNow that the zircon "could be a smoking gun" that helps to prove the lost-continent theory. But Jerome Dyment of the Paris Institute of Earth Physics told National Geographic he's not convinced. The traces of ancient zircon in the Mauritius sand could have come from a ship's ballast or modern construction materials, he argued.

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