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Ancient 'Micro-Continent' Found Under Indian Ocean
« on: February 26, 2013, 11:13:14 AM »
By Charles Q. Choi, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor | LiveScience.com – 7 hrs ago


micro-continent - Ancient 'Micro-Continent' Found Under Indian Ocean - Science and Research
This map shows the thickness of the crust around the Mauritius and Reunion Island region. The circled numbers note how many millions of years ago the mantle plume there was beneath or near the Indian and African tectonic plates.



The remains of a micro-continent scientist call Mauritia might be preserved under huge amounts of ancient lava beneath the Indian Ocean, a new analysis of island sands in the area suggests.

These findings hint that such micro-continents may have occurred more frequently than previously thought, the scientists who conducted the study, detailed online Feb. 24 in the journal Nature Geoscience, say.


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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 11:13:44 AM »
Researchers analyzed sands from the isle of Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean. Mauritius is part of a volcanic chain that, strangely, exists far from the edges of its tectonic plate. In contrast, most volcanoes are found at the borders of the tectonic plates that make up the surface of the Earth.

Investigators suggest that volcanic chains in the middle of tectonic plates, such as the Hawaiian Islands, are caused by giant pillars of hot molten rock known as mantle plumes. Theserise up from near the Earth's core, penetrating overlying material like a blowtorch.

Mantle plumes can apparently trigger continental breakups, softening the tectonic plates from below until they fragment — this is how the lost continent of Eastern Gondwana ended about 170 million years ago, prior research suggests. A plume currently sits near Mauritius and other islands, and the researchers wanted to see if they could find ancient fragments of continents from just such a breakup there.

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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 11:14:25 AM »
Digging in the sand

The beach sands of Mauritius are the eroded remnants of volcanic rocks created by eruptions 9 million years ago. Collecting them"was actually quite pleasant," said researcher Ebbe Hartz, a geologistat the University of Oslo in Norway. He described walking out from a tropical beach, "maybe with a Coke and an icebox, and you dig down underwater into sand dunes at low tide."

Within these sands, investigators discovered about 20 ancient zircon grains (a type of mineral) between 660 million and 1,970 million years old. To learn more about the source of this ancient zircon, the scientists investigated satellite maps of Earth's gravity field. The strength of the field depends on Earth's mass, and since the planet's mass is not spread evenly, its gravity field is stronger in some places on the planet's surface and weaker in others.

The researchers discovered Mauritius is part of a contiguous block of abnormally thick crust that extends in an arc northward to the Seychelles islands. The finding suggests Mauritius and the adjacent region overlie an ancient micro-continent they call Mauritia. The ancient zircons they unearthed are shards of lost Mauritia.

The researchers meticulously sought to rule out any chance these ancient grains were contaminants from elsewhere.

"Zircons are heavy minerals, and the uranium and lead elements used to date the ages of these zircons are extraordinarily heavy, so these grains do not easily fly around — they did not blow into Mauritius from a sandstorm in Africa," Hartz told OurAmazingPlanet.

"We also chose a beach where there was no construction whatsoever — that these grains did not come from cement somewhere else," Hartz added. "We were also careful that all the equipment we used to collect the minerals was new, that this was the first time it was used, that there was no previous rock sticking to it from elsewhere."

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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 11:14:52 AM »
Peeling continent pieces

After analyzing marine fracture zones and ocean magnetic anomalies, the investigators suggest Mauritia separated from Madagascar, fragmented and dispersed as the Indian Ocean basin grew between 61 million and 83.5 million years ago. Since then, volcanic activity has buried Mauritia under lava, and may have done the same to other continental fragments.

"There are all these little slivers of continent that may peel off continents when the hotspot of a mantle plume passes under them," Hartz said. "Why that happens is still mind-boggling. Why, after something gets ripped apart, would it rip apart again?"

Finding past evidence of lost continents normally involves tediously crushing and sorting volcanic rocks, Hartz explained. The researchers essentially let nature do the work of pulverization for them by looking at sand.

"We suggest lots of scientists try this technique on their favorite volcanoes," Hartz said.

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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 11:24:40 AM »
Ancient Lost Continent Discovered in Indian Ocean

Landmass "drowned" during continental breakup about 85 million years ago.


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Lion Mountain (pictured) is located in southeastern Mauritius.
Photograph by Danita Delimont, Alamy


by Ker Than
for National Geographic News
Published February 25, 2013


Evidence of a drowned "microcontinent" has been found in sand grains from the beaches of a small Indian Ocean island, scientists say.

A well-known tourist destination, Mauritius is located about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) 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.

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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 11:25:40 AM »
But recently, researchers have found sand grains on Mauritius that contain fragments of the mineral zircon that are far older than the island, between 660 million and about 2 billion years old.

In a new study, detailed in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists concluded that the older minerals once belonged to a now vanished landmass, tiny bits of which were dragged up to the surface during the formation of Mauritius.

"When lavas moved through continental material on the way towards the surface, they picked up a few rocks containing zircon," study co-author Bjørn Jamtveit, a geologist at the University of Oslo in Norway, explained in an email.

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."

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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 11:26:12 AM »
Prehistoric Atlantis

Jamtveit and his colleagues estimate that the lost microcontinent, which they have dubbed Mauritia, was about a quarter of the size of Madagascar.

Furthermore, based on a recalculation of how the ancient continents drifted apart, the scientists concluded that Mauritia was once a tiny part of a much larger "supercontinent" that included India and Madagascar, called Rodinia.

The three landmasses "were tucked together in one big continent prior to the formation of the Indian Ocean," Jamtveit said.

But like a prehistoric Atlantis, Mauritia was eventually drowned beneath the waves when India broke apart from Madagascar about 85 million years ago.

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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 11:26:57 AM »
Ancient Rocks

Scientists have long suspected that volcanic islands might contain evidence of lost continents, and Jamtveit and his team decided to test this hypothesis during a layover in Mauritius as part of a longer research trip in 1999.

The stop in tropical Mauritius "was a very tempting thing to do for a Norwegian in the cold month of January," Jamtveit said.

Mauritius was a good test site because it was a relatively young island and, being formed from ocean lava, would not naturally contain zircon, a tough mineral that doesn't weather easily.

If zircon older than 9 million years was found on Mauritius, it would be good evidence of the presence of buried continental material, Jamtveit explained.

At first, the scientists crushed rocks from Mauritius to extract the zircon crystals, but this proved difficult because the crushing equipment contained zircon from other sites, raising the issue of contamination.

"That was a show stopper for a while," Jamtveit said.

A few years later, however, some members of the team returned to Mauritius and this time brought back sand from two different beaches for sampling.

The scientists extracted 20 zircon samples and successfully dated 8 of them by calculating the rate that the elements uranium and thorium inside of the samples slowly break down into lead.

"They all provided much older ages than the age of the Mauritius lavas," Jamtveit said. "In fact they gave ages consistent with the ages of known continental rocks in Madagascar, Seychelles, and India."

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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 11:28:46 AM »
Missing Evidence?

Jérôme Dyment, a geologist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics in France, said he's unconvinced by the work because it's possible that the ancient zircons found their way to the island by other means, for example 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 participate in the research.

"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."

Dyment added that if Mauritia was real, evidence for its existence should be found as part of a joint French and German experiment that installed deep-sea seismometers to investigate Earth's mantle around Réunion Island, which is situated about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Mauritius.

"If a microcontinent lies under Réunion, it should be depicted by this experiment," said Dyment, who is part of the project, dubbed RHUM-RUM.

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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 11:29:17 AM »
More Dismembered Continents to Be Found?

But Conall Mac Niocaill, a geologist at the University of Oxford in the U.K. who was also not involved in the study, said "the lines of evidence are, individually, only suggestive, but collectively they add up to a compelling story."

The zircons "produce a range of ages, but all yield ages older than 660 million years, and one is almost 2 billion years old," he added.

"There is no obvious source for them in Mauritius, and they are unlikely to have been blown in by the wind, or carried in by human activity, so the obvious conclusion is that the young volcanic lava sampled some older material on their way through the crust."

Based on the new findings, Mac Niocaill and others think other vanished microcontinents could be lurking beneath the Indian Ocean.

In fact, analyses of Earth's gravitational field have revealed other areas in the world's oceans where the rock appears to be thicker than normal and could be a sign of continental crusts.

"We know more about the topography of Mars than we do about the [topography] of the world's ocean floor, so there may well be other dismembered continents out there waiting to be discovered."

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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 11:31:53 AM »
Prehistoric Atlantis[/b]

Jamtveit and his colleagues estimate that the lost microcontinent, which they have dubbed Mauritia, was about a quarter of the size of Madagascar.

Furthermore, based on a recalculation of how the ancient continents drifted apart, the scientists concluded that Mauritia was once a tiny part of a much larger "supercontinent" that included India and Madagascar, called Rodinia.

The three landmasses "were tucked together in one big continent prior to the formation of the Indian Ocean," Jamtveit said.

But like a prehistoric Atlantis, Mauritia was eventually drowned beneath the waves when India broke apart from Madagascar about 85 million years ago.

In geology, Rodinia is the name of a supercontinent, a continent which contained most or all of Earth's landmass. According to plate tectonic reconstructions, Rodinia existed between 1.1 billion and 750 million years ago, in the Neoproterozoic era. It formed at ~1.0 Ga by accretion and collision of fragments produced by breakup of the older supercontinent, Columbia, which was assembled by global-scale 2.0-1.8 Ga collisional events. Rodinia has entered popular consciousness as one of the two great supercontinents of earth history, the other being Pangaea. --Wiki

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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 11:34:01 AM »
Columbia[/b], which was assembled by global-scale 2.0-1.8 Ga collisional events. Rodinia has entered popular consciousness as one of the two great supercontinents of earth history, the other being Pangaea. --Wiki

Columbia, also known as Nuna and Hudsonland, was one of Earth's ancient supercontinents. It was first proposed by J.J.W. Rogers and M. Santosh (2002) and is thought to have existed approximately 1.8 to 1.5 billion years (Ga) ago in the Paleoproterozoic Era. Zhao et al. (2002) proposed that the assembly of the supercontinent Columbia (Nuna) was completed by global-scale collisional events during 2.1–1.8 Ga. It consisted of the proto-cratons that made up the former continents of Laurentia, Baltica, Ukrainian Shield, Amazonian Shield, Australia, and possibly Siberia, North China, and Kalaharia as well. The evidence of Columbia's existence is based upon geological and paleomagnetic data. -- Wiki

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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 11:38:45 AM »
Prehistoric supercontinents


    Gondwana (~510–~180 million years ago)

    Laurasia (~510–~200 million years ago)

    Pangaea (~300–~200 million years ago)

    Euramerica (~300 million years ago)

    Oldredia (~418–~380 million years ago)

    Pannotia, also called Vendian (~600–~540 million years ago)

    Rodinia (~1.1 Ga–~750 million years ago)

    Columbia, also called Nuna (~1.8–1.5 Ga ago)

    Nena (~1.8 Ga)

    Kenorland (~2.7 Ga ago). Neoarchean sanukitoid cratons and new continental crust formed Kenorland. Protracted tectonic magna plume rifting occurred 2.48 to 2.45 Ga and this contributed to the Paleoproterozoic glacial events in 2.45 to 2.22 Ga. Final breakup occurred ~2.1 Ga.

    Ur (~3 Ga ago). Classified as the earliest known landmass. Ur, however, was probably the largest, perhaps even the only continent three billion years ago. While probably not a supercontinent, one can argue that Ur was a supercontinent for its time, even if it was smaller than Australia is today. Still, an older rock formation now located in Greenland dates back from Hadean times.

    Vaalbara (~3.6 Ga ago). Evidence is the Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia and the worldwide Archean greenstone belts that were subsequently spread out across Gondwana and Laurasia. --Wiki


N.B. Ga = one billion years (thousand million years)

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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 11:58:48 AM »

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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 03:09:23 PM »

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Re: Ancient 'Micro-Continent' Found Under Indian Ocean
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2013, 03:23:31 PM »

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Kumari Kandam



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Gate to hell found in ancient ruins

Started by hubag bohol on Science and Research

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Last post March 23, 2013, 05:29:52 PM
by hubag bohol
 

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