When I saw this story, I knew someone would go there. Good job MSN Now.
Could ‘lost’ continent discovered in Indian Ocean be Atlantis?
Scientists discovered it by dating grains of sand on the beaches of Mauritius. Look, we’re not saying it’s Atlantis, but we’re also not NOT saying it’s Atlantis.
While this was picked up by fringe sites, it also is mentioned in other mainstream news such as here.
The MSN Now reference article linked to this BBC piece which is straightforward and contains no mention of Atlantis silliness.
Researchers have found evidence for a landmass that would have existed between 2,000 and 85 million years ago.
The strip of land, which scientists have called Mauritia, eventually fragmented and vanished beneath the waves as the modern world started to take shape.
The study is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The surface of the earth is made of crustal plates the move around. They bang into each other – going up over (creating mountains like the Himalayas) or dive underneath each other though a process called subduction. Sometimes they get squished and pulled apart again, things get stacked on top of each other or they get ripped apart. It’s messy.
From the paper:
On the basis of reinterpretation of marine geophysical data4, we propose that Mauritia was separated from Madagascar and fragmented into a ribbon-like configuration by a series of mid-ocean ridge jumps during the opening of the Mascarene ocean basin between 83.5 and 61 million years ago. We suggest that the plume-related magmatic deposits have since covered Mauritia and potentially other continental fragments.
Geological papers are notorious full of jargon that make them difficult to understand by anyone except specialists in that specific area of research. But the gist is, they used really nifty and long lasting minerals called zircons that provided dates that showed a piece of older land must have existed here. At least some of the land subducted under the ocean floor, remelted and then the zircons which remained in tact were then erupted out of the volcano.
Atlantis? No. A thousand times NO. This process took millions and millions of years. The continent didn’t break up overnight. Geology mostly works slowly. This is a case where the destruction was slow and the clues were vomited up by the volcano. Neat, eh?
What’s sad is that any mention in any context of “lost continent” seems to be linked to Atlantis. That’s dumb. But once it’s mentioned, especially in a headline, you know what you hear from your facebook buddies and on “secret” forums, ATLANTIC FOUND! Stop it. Atlantis is a myth.