Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius

February 2, 2017 by  
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A group of geoscientists have uncovered an ancient secret. The scientists from German and South African research institutions found evidence of a formerly undiscovered continent beneath the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. This lost continent likely vanished into the ocean around 84 million years ago, undiscovered by humans until just recently. Three geoscientists realized zircon they found on Mauritius was much too old for the relatively new island which formed in the wake of underwater volcanic eruptions eight to nine million years ago. Volcanic eruptions on the island spewed out the zircon crystals that researchers now think may derive from an ancient continent linking India and Madagascar as part of the Gondwana supercontinent. Lewis Ashwal of University of the Witwatersrand , who is the lead author on a paper published online January 31 by Nature , said, “Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than nine million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as three billion years.” Related: Ancient ocean crust in the Mediterranean Sea may predate supercontinent Pangea Back in 2013, scientists found ancient zircons billions of years old in Mauritius beach sand, but that find was controversial as other scientists said the materials could have arrived at the beach from somewhere else. The new discovery lends credence to the idea that there once was a continent under Mauritius billions of years ago, as these zircons could not have been transported to the island via wind or waves, according to Ashwal. He said, “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.” Now some people think other pieces of the Gondwana supercontinent may be found in the future, as we explore deeper in the oceans . Via ScienceAlert and Phys.org Images via Ludovic Lubeigt on Flickr and Susan Webb/Wits University

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Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius

Oldest Fragment of Earth Ever Found is Confirmed to be 4.4 Billion Years Old

February 24, 2014 by  
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If you thought that diamonds were forever , they have absolutely nothing on the zircon of Jack Hills, Australia. Professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin , John Valley has confirmed that this bit of Earth’s crust is the oldest fragment of the planet ever found at 4.375 billion years old. Using a technique called “atom-probe tomography,” Valley and his fellow scientists dated the zircon with more accuracy than previous methods. Not only did they confirm the zircon’s spectacular age, but also solidified the theory that early Earth was cool and had temperatures low enough to sustain liquid water and a hydrosphere. Read the rest of Oldest Fragment of Earth Ever Found is Confirmed to be 4.4 Billion Years Old Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: atom-probe tomography , australia , early earth , earth’s oldest fragment , geology , geoscience , jack hills , john valley , lead atoms , university of wisconsin-madison , zircon        

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Oldest Fragment of Earth Ever Found is Confirmed to be 4.4 Billion Years Old

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