A map of crustal thickness for the Indian Ocean derived from satellite derived gravity anomaly data (Map produced with permission of Badley Geoscience)
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found evidence of an ancient micro-continent buried beneath the Indian Ocean.
The ancient continent extends more than 1500 km in length from the Seychelles to the island of Mauritius and contains rocks as old as 2,000 million years, much older than the Indian Ocean which has formed only in the last 165 million years.
The research team believe that this micro-continent, which they have named Mauritia, was split off from Madagascar and India between 61 and 83 million years ago as one single land mass rifted apart to form the continents around the Indian Ocean that we know today. Much of it was then smothered by thick lava deposits as a result of volcanic activity and submerged beneath the waves.
Scientists from the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences used satellite derived data to map crustal thickness under the Indian Ocean.
Collaborating researchers from Oslo University analysed sand grains from beaches in Mauritius, a volcanic island about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. They found the sand contained tiny crystals of ancient zircon, a mineral normally associated with a continental crust and dated between 660 million and two billion years old, a lot older than the sand grains which were formed from the nine million-year-volcanic activity on Mauritius.
Professor Nick Kusznir: “We see what may be five or six other micro-continent fragments under the Indian Ocean”
Professor Nick Kusznir, who led the University of Liverpool’s processing and analysis of satellite gravitational field anomalies to map the Indian Ocean crustal thickness, said: “Our expertise in mapping crustal thickness beneath the oceans has revealed many large areas where the crust is much thicker than normal. When you put this information together with the analysis of the zircons found on the beaches of Mauritius we can conclude that there are remnants of fragmented continents under the Indian Ocean.
“We see what may be five or six other micro-continent fragments under the Indian Ocean. More research needs to done to confirm this. We also see similar features in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.”
The crustal thickness mapping techniques using satellite data developed by Liverpool and industry partners are applied to deep-water oil and gas exploration in frontier areas and have also been used for governments making UNCLOS law of sea territorial claims.
The research is published in Nature Geoscience.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
All recent news
Celebrating 100 years of oceanography
Looking after your mental wellbeing: Keep learning
How Antarctic krill fertilise the oceans and even store carbon – all with their poo
Uncover women’s influence on region with new Sisters of Mersey app
4 autumn volunteering opportunities you can apply for today
At midnight tonight abortion will be decriminalised in Northern Ireland. It’s been a long time coming but #TheNorthIsNow Next up- #Gibraltar The fight for reproductive rights continues until #freesafelegallocal is also #universal Reproductive rights are human rights
EPISODE TWO out now features leaders in education... Dame Janet Beer @LivUni and Leonor Stjepic @MontessoriUK discussing what it means today to be work-ready, thinking on your feet and finding female role models. Please take a listen https://t.co/p9AKCRQ5dY
"Boris Johnson’s form of #Brexit is perhaps the biggest ever shift to a united Ireland..." writes Prof @JonTonge for the Belfast Telegraph > https://t.co/b9PF7c2Ep0