Science X-Files

Remains Of Ancient Continent Found Under Modern Day Island Of Mauritius

Scientists have been able to discover certain crystals on the island of Mauritius which are much older as compared to the island itself. These crystals which come from volcanic eruptions are believed to be the remains of the ancient micro-continent which was known as Mauritia.

The ‘lost continent’ which scientists believe is lying underneath the island of Mauritius was part of the Gondwana supercontinent and connected India and Madagascar and India but had most probably disappeared in the Indian Ocean about 84 million years ago.

One of the well-known members of the team of researcher, Lewis Ashwal, who hails from the University of the Witwatersrand located in South Africa said, “Earth is made up of two parts – continents, which are old, and oceans, which are ‘young’.” He added, “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.”

5-researchersc-1Indian Ocean topography showing the location of Mauritius as part of a chain of progressively older volcanoes extending from the presently active hot-spot of Réunion toward the 65-million-year-old Deccan traps of northwest India. Credit: Wits University Read more at:

Located about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the southeastern coast of the continent of African, Mauritius is believed to a relatively young landmass which was formed due to underwater volcanic eruptions about 8-9 million years ago. These islands are now part of the Mascarene Islands archipelago along with few other islands such as Rodrigues islands as well as Saint Brandon, Réunion.

With the help of his team Ashwal dug up a thin piece of crust from the rocky regions of the islands of Mauritius which were covered by mostly by the molten lava which flowed from volcanic eruptions during the formation of the island.

Zircons are fine substances which are created from the different types of granites of the ancient continents which were spread across the surface of earth. Ashwal and his team on one occasion were able to find crystals of zircon which were around 2.5 to3 billion years old suggesting that they were part of the lost continent of Mauritia.

zircon-feb-1Variably sized crystals of alkali feldspar like the large white one at lower left are aligned by magmatic flow. A large zircon crystal appears as the brightly coloured grain just right of centre. Credit: Wits University Read more at:

“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,” says Ashwal.”The fact that we found the ancient zircons in rock corroborates the previous study, and refutes any suggestion of wind-blown, wave-transported, or pumice-rafted zircons for explaining the earlier results,” he added.

These new find by the team of researchers points to the presence of an ancient continent which was fragmented into very small pieces. Some of these pieces had ended up being trapped under the current landmass of the Island of Mauritius. Several pieces of the ancient island were also found recently underneath the island of Iceland as well as the beautiful coast of Western Australia as reported by the New Scientist reporter Alice Klein.

Though not part of the research team, an eminent scientist Martin Van Kranendonk, of the University of New South Wales located in the country of Australia, said, “It’s only now as we explore more of the deep oceans that we’re finding all these bits of ancient continents around the place.”

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